80 Percent Of Americans Say That They Are Not Better Off Than They Were Four Years Ago

Are you better off today than you were four years ago?  If not, then you are just like most other Americans.  According to a CBS News/New York Times poll that was released a few days ago, 80 percent of Americans say that their financial situation is not “better today” than it was four years ago.  But if you turn on the television and listen to what the “pundits” are saying, you would be tempted to think that we were in the midst of a robust economic recovery.  You would be tempted to think that the U.S. economy is in great shape and that we are heading for a really bright future.  But the fact that the stock market is soaring does not mean much to most Americans.  In fact, most Americans couldn’t care less that the Dow is well above 13,000 and that the NASDAQ is above 3,000.  What most Americans care about is having a job and being able to provide for their families.  If you haven’t paid the mortgage in three months or if you don’t have enough money to take your daughter to go see the doctor it really is not going to matter to you how well the boys and girls over on Wall Street are doing.  Right now most American families are doing worse than they were doing four years ago, and no amount of media hype is going to change that fact.

Yes, the stock market is doing really well for the moment, but the truth is that more than 50 percent of all stocks and bonds are owned by just 1 percent of the U.S. population.

Good for them.  It looks like the trillions of dollars that the Federal Reserve poured into the big Wall Street banks is really paying off nicely for the financial community.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of the country is deeply suffering.

It was recently reported that 1.5 million American families live on less than two dollars a day (before counting government benefits).

That is horrifying.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans living in “extreme poverty” is now sitting at an all-time high.

All across this country poverty is exploding.  Food banks are experiencing more demand than ever before and those offering free healthcare are absolutely swamped.

And every single measure of government dependence has gone way up since Barack Obama entered the White House.

For example, since Barack Obama became president the number of Americans on food stamps has gone up by 45 percent.

Just think about that.

At this point the federal government is helping to feed an all-time record 46.5 million Americans every month.

Oh yeah, times are good.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

That is much higher than it has been historically.

For example, back in 1983 less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

The big problem is that there are simply not enough jobs for everyone.

Listening to the media, you would be tempted to think that the U.S. economy is now pumping out huge numbers of good jobs.

But that is simply not the case.

Right now there are 5.6 million fewer jobs than there were when the last recession began back in late 2007.

So where are the millions of jobs you promised us Obama?

The federal government is trying to convince us that the unemployment rate is going down, but that is not really true.

The key is to look at the percentage of working age Americans that actually have jobs.  During the last recession that percentage fell dramatically as you can see from the chart below.  After every other recession since World War II the employment to population ratio has always bounced back.  But it has not happened this time.  Instead, the employment to population ratio has remained between 58 and 59 percent since the end of 2009….

We have not had a jobs recovery.  Hopefully we will have one before the next recession hits, but we are running out of time for that.

Tonight there are millions upon millions of hard working Americans that are staring at their television screens and wondering why they can’t find good jobs.  The pretty people on television are telling them that the employment situation is getting much better but they can’t find work no matter how hard they try.  It is a cruel joke on them.

When Barack Obama entered the White House, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in the United States was approximately 2.6 million.  Today, that number is sitting at 5.6 million.

Thanks for the improvement Obama.

Meanwhile, the average duration of unemployment continues to hover near a record high.  Just look at the chart posted below.  Does this look like a “jobs recovery” to you?….

But of course Obama and those that support him want to make things sound like they are getting better.  They want people to run out and vote for him again in November.

If things are going well for you right now, be thankful, and also remember the millions upon millions of Americans out there that are deeply hurting in this economy.

If you gathered together all of the workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States at this point into one nation, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the entire world.  It would be a nation larger than Greece or Portugal.

That is a lot of people.

Obama promised us that the Wall Street bailouts would make everything better.  He promised us that if we poured gigantic mountains of money into Wall Street that it would end up helping “Main Street”.

Well, the last time I looked Goldman Sachs was doing just fine.

So where is the help for Main Street?

In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

How much wealthier do they have to get before they start creating more jobs for the rest of us?

Obama (like most of our politicians) is a complete fraud when it comes to the economy.  He is all saddle and no horse.  He talks a good game but he doesn’t have any game.

As Wall Street has recovered, the rest of the country has actually been in decline.  Median household income in the United States is down 7.8 percent since December 2007 after adjusting for inflation.  Millions of American families are reaching the breaking point and millions of other families have already reached it.

Incomes have been declining but the cost of living has not.

For example, health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent since Barack Obama became president.

Has your paycheck increased by 23 percent?

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has increased by more than 90 percent since Barack Obama became president.

Has your paycheck increased by 90 percent?

Millions of American families have lost their homes while Obama has been president and millions more will soon lose their homes.  At this point there are more than 6 million mortgages in the United States that are overdue.

It is a horrible, horrible feeling to know that you can’t pay your mortgage and that you will soon lose your home and your family will be put out on the street.

None of us would ever want to end up in that situation.

And the housing market sure has not shown any signs of recovery under Barack Obama.

In January, U.S. home prices were the lowest that they have been in more than a decade.

Weren’t home prices and home sales supposed to be turning around by now?

Under Barack Obama, new home sales in the United States set a brand new all-time record low in 2009, they set a brand new all-time record low again in 2010, and they set a brand new all-time record low once again during 2011.

That trend is not going in the right direction.

Of course Barack Obama is not solely responsible for the performance of the U.S. economy.  Congress should share part of the blame as well, and the Federal Reserve is more responsible for our economic performance than anyone else is.

But one area where Barack Obama has had a huge impact is in the area of government spending.

While Barack Obama has been president, the U.S. national debt has risen from 10.6 trillion to 15.5 trillion.

Thanks Obama.

During the first three years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did between 1776 and 1995.

So is Obama planning a change of course?

Of course not.

At this point, our national debt is increasing by about 150 million dollars every single hour.

So should we be thanking Obama for stealing 150 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every hour?

Should we be thanking Obama for ruining our future?

I think not.

But you know what?

According to the CBS News/New York Times poll mentioned above, about half of America would actually vote for Obama if the next presidential election was held today.

That alone is a clear sign that this country is in a massive amount of trouble.

The truth is that the leaders we elect are an accurate reflection of who we are as a country.

And when you look at the collection of misfits in Washington D.C. right now, that does not say a lot about the character of this nation.

So where does America go from here?

That is up to you America.

Not So Fast On That Whole Economic Recovery Thing

Not so fast.  Those that are publicly declaring that an economic recovery has arrived are ignoring a whole host of numbers that indicate that the U.S. economy is in absolutely horrendous shape.  The truth is that the health of an economy should not be measured by how well the stock market is doing.  Rather, the truth health of an economy should be evaluated by looking at numbers for things like jobs, housing, poverty and debt.  Some of the latest economic statistics indicate that unemployment is getting a little bit worse, that the housing market continues to deteriorate, that poverty in America continues to soar and that our debt problem is worse than ever.  If we were truly experiencing the kind of economic recovery that the United States has experienced after every other post-World War II recession we would see a sharp improvement across the board in most of our economic statistics.  But that simply is not happening.  Sadly, this is about as much of an “economic recovery” as we are going to get because soon the economy will be getting much worse.  So enjoy this period of relative stability while you can.

The Obama administration would have us believe that unemployment in the United States has declined, but the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed very, very flat for more than two years and now there are some measures of unemployment that are actually getting worse.

For example, according to Gallup the unemployment rate in the United States has risen from 8.5% in December to 8.6% in January to 9.1% in February.  The Obama administration would have us believe that it is actually going the other direction.

Initial unemployment claims are rising again.  For the week ending March 3rd, they increased by 8,000 over the previous week to 362,000.  This is not the kind of good news that people were hoping for.

What the U.S. economy could really use are millions of good jobs.  But those are being shipped out of the country at a staggering pace.

Right now there are millions of Americans in their prime working years that are sitting at home wondering what to do with their lives.  The average duration of unemployment in the United States continues to hover near a record high, and if we were truly experiencing an economic recovery it should have been falling by now.

But a lot of Americans have bought into the propaganda about an economic recovery and they are out running up huge amounts of debt once again.  In January, consumer credit increased by much more than expected.  The following is from a recent Reuters report….

Nonrevolving credit, which includes auto loans as well as student loans made by the government, rose $20.723 billion during the month. That was the biggest increase in dollar terms since November 2001, when credit was surging in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Don’t fall into the trap of debt slavery.  During the last recession millions of Americans lost their homes and most of what they owned because they got overextended.

Don’t do it.

The U.S. housing market continues to deeply struggle as well.  If we were really in an economic recovery housing would be bouncing back.  But that is not happening.  Just consider the following facts….

*The number of new homes sold in the United States continues to hover near a record low.

*U.S. home prices in the 4th quarter of 2011 were four percent lower than they were during the 4th quarter of 2010.

*According to CoreLogic, 22.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage in the United States were in negative equity as of the end of the 4th quarter of 2011.  That was an increase from 22.1 percent in the third quarter.

Why are things still getting worse for the U.S housing market?

That is a really good question.

We should have seen some improvement by now.

But it isn’t happening.

Also, poverty in America continues to explode.

For example, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased to 46.5 million – a brand new all-time record.

If we really were in an economic recovery, wouldn’t that number be going down?

We should be thankful that the U.S. economy is not declining as rapidly as it was during 2008 and 2009.  But what we are experiencing right now is not an economic recovery.  It is simply just a bubble of false hope.

The big problem is that our nation is covered in an ocean of constantly expanding debt.

U.S. consumers are drowning in debt, U.S. businesses have pushed debt levels to the red line, and the U.S. financial system is massively overleveraged.

Of course government debt is our biggest debt problem of all.

All over the nation, state and local governments are on the verge of financial ruin.

If we were in the middle of an economic recovery, so many states would not be in crisis mode.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times declared that “California could run out of cash in March“.  As the economy continues to crumble we are going to hear a lot more of this kind of thing.

A lot of local governments around the nation are on the verge of total financial collapse.  Stockton, California has announced that they will be defaulting on some debt payments, and Suffolk County in New York recently declared a fiscal emergency after discovering that it would rack up more than 500 million dollars of debt between 2011 and 2013.

Keep your eyes open for more news items like this in the months ahead.

Of course the biggest problem of all is the U.S. national debt and it continues to rapidly get worse.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. government had a budget deficit of 229 billion dollars in the month of February.  That is the worst one month budget deficit in the history of the United States.

The Congressional Budget Office also says that the U.S. government is now borrowing 42 cents of every single dollar that it spends.

Ouch.

The U.S. national debt has gotten more than 59 times larger since 1950.

The U.S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

Are there any words in the English language that are strong enough to describe how foolish we have been?

Of course we won’t be able to accumulate so much debt indefinitely.  At some point the trillion dollar deficits will stop and our false prosperity will disappear.

If you want to get an idea of what happens then, just take a look at Greece.

But Barack Obama and most members of the U.S. Congress don’t really care about what they are doing to our future.

What they care about is winning the next election so that they can continue living their fabulous lives.

Barack Obama is supposed to be taking care of the American people, but instead he has been very busy taking care of the people who helped him get elected.  Politics in America is all about money.  Just check out the following very short excerpt from a recent article in the Washington Post….

More than half of Obama’s 47 biggest fundraisers, those who collected at least $500,000 for his campaign, have been given administration jobs. Nine more have been appointed to presidential boards and committees.

At least 24 Obama bundlers were given posts as foreign ambassadors, including in Finland, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg. Among them is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who serves as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Washington D.C. is deeply corrupt and if you are waiting for our politicians to fix our problems you are going to be deeply disappointed.

The federal government is not going to save you.

Our politicians are not going to save you.

You better figure out how you are going to take care of yourself and your family in the years ahead because this is about as good as things are going to get.

This “economic recovery” is about to end and more pain is about to begin.

15 Potentially Massive Threats To The U.S. Economy Over The Next 12 Months

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, and the potential for an event that could cause “sudden change” to the U.S. economy is greater than ever.  There are dozens of potentially massive threats that could easily push the U.S. economy over the edge during the next 12 months.  A war in the Middle East, a financial collapse in Europe, a major derivatives crisis or a horrific natural disaster could all change our economic situation very rapidly.  Most of the time I write about the long-term economic trends that are slowly but surely ripping the U.S. economy to pieces, but the truth is that just a single really bad “black swan event” over the next 12 months could accelerate our economic problems dramatically.  If oil was cut off from the Middle East or a really bad natural disaster suddenly destroyed a major U.S. city, the U.S. economy would be thrown into a state of chaos.  Considering how bad the U.S. economy is currently performing, it would be easy to see how a major “shock to the system” could push us into the “next Great Depression” very easily.  Let us hope that none of these things actually happen over the next 12 months, but let us also understand that we live in a world that has become extremely chaotic and extremely unstable.

In the list below, you will find some “sudden change” events that are somewhat likely and some that are quite unlikely.  I have tried to include a broad range of potential “black swan events”, but there are certainly dozens more massive threats that could potentially be listed.

The following are 15 potentially massive threats to the U.S. economy over the next 12 months….

#1 War With Syria – U.S. Senator John McCain is now publicly calling for U.S. airstrikes against Syria.  A military conflict with Syria becomes more likely with each passing day.

#2 War With Iran – A war in the Middle East involving Iran could literally erupt at any time.  The following is from a Reuters news report that was issued on Monday….

President Barack Obama appealed to Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to give sanctions time to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the Israeli prime minister offered no sign of backing away from possible military action, saying his country must be the “master of its fate.”

#3 A Disorderly Greek Debt Default – Many reporters in Europe seem to think that this is becoming increasingly likely.  So what would a disorderly Greek debt default mean for the global financial system?  A leaked report that was authored by the Institute of International Finance says that a disorderly Greek debt default would have some very serious consequences.  You can read the full text of that leaked report right here.

#4 An Economic Collapse In Spain – Spain has one of the largest economies in Europe and it is rapidly becoming a basket case.  As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Spain has hit 19.9 percent, and the unemployment rate for workers under the age of 25 is up to 49.9 percent.  Unfortunately, the situation in Spain continues to deteriorate.  The following is from a recent article by Marc Chandler….

However, the devolution in Spain is particularly troubling. The new fiscal compact had just been signed last week, which includes somewhat more rigorous fiscal rule and enforcement, when Spain’s PM Rajoy revealed that this year’s deficit would come in around 5.8 percent of GDP rather the 4.4 percent target. This of course follows last year’s 8.5 percent overshoot of the 6 percent target.

The problem that for Spain is that the 4.4 percent target was based on forecasts for more than 2 percent growth this year. However, in late February, the EU cuts its forecast to a 1 percent contraction. This still seems optimistic. The IMF forecasts a 1.7 percent contraction, which the Spanish government now accepts.

#5 The Price Of Gasoline – The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen for 27 days in a row and is now up to $3.77.  Virtually all forms of economic activity are affected by the price of gasoline, and if the price of gas keeps going up it is eventually going to have dramatic consequences for the U.S. economy.

#6 The Student Loan Debt Bubble – Just like we saw with the housing bubble, the student loan debt bubble just continues to grow and grow and grow.  At some point the nearly 1 trillion dollar bubble is going to burst.  What effect will it have on our financial system when that finally happens?

#7 State And Local Government Debt Crisis – It is being reported that California is running out of cash again and there are cities all over the country that are on the verge of bankruptcy.  Could we see a significant municipal bond crisis in the next 12 months?

#8 The Collapse Of A Major U.S. Bank – A number of top U.S. banks are looking increasingly shaky.  In a recent article, David Trainer explained why he has such serious concerns about Bank of America right now….

In my opinion, there are four actions taken by financial services that signal the company is headed to serious trouble.

1. Management shake-up and major layoffs – lots of layoffs over the past year

2. Exploiting accounting rules to boost earnings – SFAS 159

3. Drawing down reserves to boost earnings: to the tune of $13.3 billion in 2011 and 2012

4. Bilking customers with new fees: tried it before and trying it again

Bank of America has taken all four steps.

#9 A Derivatives Crisis – The International Swaps and Derivatives Association recently ruled that the Greek debt deal will not trigger payouts on credit default swaps.  This is seriously shaking confidence in the global market for derivatives.  But the global financial system simply cannot afford a major derivatives crisis.

Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market range from $600 trillion all the way up to $1.5 quadrillion.  The notional value of all derivatives held by Bank of America is approximately $75 trillion.  JPMorgan Chase is holding derivatives with a notional value of approximately $79 trillion.

When the derivatives bubble finally bursts it is going to be a financial horror show unlike anything we have ever seen.

#10 The Fall Of The Japanese Economy – The Japanese economy shrank at a 2.3 percent rate during the fourth quarter of 2011.  Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of over 200 percent and a major debt crisis involving Japan could erupt at any time.

#11 A “Solar Megastorm” – Scientists tell us that there is a “1 in 8 chance” that a “solar megastorm” will hit the earth by 2014.  A recent Daily Mail article detailed what some of the consequences of such an event would be….

‘We live in a cyber cocoon enveloping the Earth. Imagine what the consequences might be,’ Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics told National Geographic when asked about a potential ‘megastorm’.

‘Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that’s a satellite transaction.

‘Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year. The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years.

#12 A Major West Coast Earthquake Or Volcanic Eruption – On Monday, there was a 4.0 earthquake in San Francisco and a 6.1 earthquake in Argentina.  Is the “Ring of Fire” waking up again?

#13 Tornado Damage To Major U.S. Cities – Last year, the U.S. experienced one of the worst tornado seasons of all time.  This year, we have already seen the worst tornado outbreak ever recorded in the United States in the month of March.  A couple of towns in Indiana were completely wiped out by that outbreak.  So what should we expect when we get to the heart of tornado season this year?

#14 Severe Drought In The United States – Last summer was one of the driest summers on record in the United States, and in many areas there is simply not enough water available for farmers this year.  Some are even projecting that we could see “dust bowl conditions” return to some areas of the country eventually.

#15 An Asteroid Strike In 2013 – Although scientists tell us that the probability is extremely low, the truth is that there is a slight chance that a sizeable asteroid could hit the earth in February 2013.  The asteroid is estimated to be between 60 and 100 meters wide, and it is projected to pass by our planet “at a distance of under 27,000 km“.  If it did hit us (and scientists say that the odds of that happening are very low) it would potentially be as serious an event as the Tunguska Event in Siberia in 1908.  Mac Slavo of shtfplan.com recently described how awesome the Tunguska Event really was….

On June 30, 1908 an incoming meteor exploded approximately 5 miles above Siberia. The force of the air burst explosion, estimated at between 15 and 30 megatons, or about 1000 times bigger than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, was so powerful that it annihilated everything in an 830 square mile area, and reports suggest that that explosion was heard up to 1000 miles away. Because of the remoteness of the impact zone, the Tunguska Event over Siberia had very little effect on the human population in the region, but the destruction of some 80 million trees in the area shows just how powerful a blast was created.

Of course there are so many other “sudden change” events that could potentially happen – a terror event in a major U.S. city, a deadly pandemic, an EMP attack, cyberterrorism or a major political scandal could all possibly cause a stock market crash and an economic collapse in the United States.

In the world that we are living in today, you just never know what is going to happen.

So what are all of you concerned about over the next 12 months?

Do you see the potential for some “black swan events” to happen?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve

What would happen if the Federal Reserve was shut down permanently?  That is a question that CNBC asked recently, but unfortunately most Americans don’t really think about the Fed much. Most Americans are content with believing that the Federal Reserve is just another stuffy government agency that sets our interest rates and that is watching out for the best interests of the American people.  But that is not the case at all.  The truth is that the Federal Reserve is a private banking cartel that has been designed to systematically destroy the value of our currency, drain the wealth of the American public and enslave the federal government to perpetually expanding debt.  During this election year, the economy is the number one issue that voters are concerned about.  But instead of endlessly blaming both political parties, the truth is that most of the blame should be placed at the feet of the Federal Reserve.  The Federal Reserve has more power over the performance of the U.S. economy than anyone else does.  The Federal Reserve controls the money supply, the Federal Reserve sets the interest rates and the Federal Reserve hands out bailouts to the big banks that absolutely dwarf anything that Congress ever did.  If the American people are ever going to learn what is really going on with our economy, then it is absolutely imperative that they get educated about the Federal Reserve.

The following are 10 things that every American should know about the Federal Reserve….

#1 The Federal Reserve System Is A Privately Owned Banking Cartel

The Federal Reserve is not a government agency.

The truth is that it is a privately owned central bank.  It is owned by the banks that are members of the Federal Reserve system.  We do not know how much of the system each bank owns, because that has never been disclosed to the American people.

The Federal Reserve openly admits that it is privately owned.  When it was defending itself against a Bloomberg request for information under the Freedom of Information Act, the Federal Reserve stated unequivocally in court that it was “not an agency” of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

In fact, if you want to find out that the Federal Reserve system is owned by the member banks, all you have to do is go to the Federal Reserve website….

The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.

Foreign governments and foreign banks do own significant ownership interests in the member banks that own the Federal Reserve system.  So it would be accurate to say that the Federal Reserve is partially foreign-owned.

But until the exact ownership shares of the Federal Reserve are revealed, we will never know to what extent the Fed is foreign-owned.

#2 The Federal Reserve System Is A Perpetual Debt Machine

As long as the Federal Reserve System exists, U.S. government debt will continue to go up and up and up.

This runs contrary to the conventional wisdom that Democrats and Republicans would have us believe, but unfortunately it is true.

The way our system works, whenever more money is created more debt is created as well.

For example, whenever the U.S. government wants to spend more money than it takes in (which happens constantly), it has to go ask the Federal Reserve for it.  The federal government gives U.S. Treasury bonds to the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Reserve gives the U.S. government “Federal Reserve Notes” in return.  Usually this is just done electronically.

So where does the Federal Reserve get the Federal Reserve Notes?

It just creates them out of thin air.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to create money out of thin air?

Instead of issuing money directly, the U.S. government lets the Federal Reserve create it out of thin air and then the U.S. government borrows it.

Talk about stupid.

When this new debt is created, the amount of interest that the U.S. government will eventually pay on that debt is not also created.

So where will that money come from?

Well, eventually the U.S. government will have to go back to the Federal Reserve to get even more money to finance the ever expanding debt that it has gotten itself trapped into.

It is a debt spiral that is designed to go on perpetually.

You see, the reality is that the money supply is designed to constantly expand under the Federal Reserve system.  That is why we have all become accustomed to thinking of inflation as “normal”.

So what does the Federal Reserve do with the U.S. Treasury bonds that it gets from the U.S. government?

Well, it sells them off to others.  There are lots of people out there that have made a ton of money by holding U.S. government debt.

In fiscal 2011, the U.S. government paid out 454 billion dollars just in interest on the national debt.

That is 454 billion dollars that was taken out of our pockets and put into the pockets of wealthy individuals and foreign governments around the globe.

The truth is that our current debt-based monetary system was designed by greedy bankers that wanted to make enormous profits by using the Federal Reserve as a tool to create money out of thin air and lend it to the U.S. government at interest.

And that plan is working quite well.

Most Americans today don’t understand how any of this works, but many prominent Americans in the past did understand it.

For example, Thomas Edison was once quoted in the New York Times as saying the following….

That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good.

We should have listened to men like Edison and Ford.

But we didn’t.

And so we pay the price.

On July 1, 1914 (a few months after the Fed was created) the U.S. national debt was 2.9 billion dollars.

Today, it is more than more than 5000 times larger.

Yes, the perpetual debt machine is working quite well, and most Americans do not even realize what is happening.

#3 The Federal Reserve Has Destroyed More Than 96% Of The Value Of The U.S. Dollar

Did you know that the U.S. dollar has lost 96.2 percent of its value since 1900?  Of course almost all of that decline has happened since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913.

Because the money supply is designed to expand constantly, it is guaranteed that all of our dollars will constantly lose value.

Inflation is a “hidden tax” that continually robs us all of our wealth.  The Federal Reserve always says that it is “committed” to controlling inflation, but that never seems to work out so well.

And current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that it is actually a good thing to have a little bit of inflation.  He plans to try to keep the inflation rate at about 2 percent in the coming years.

So what is so bad about 2 percent?  That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Well, just consider the following excerpt from a recent Forbes article….

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) has made it official:  After its latest two day meeting, it announced its goal to devalue the dollar by 33% over the next 20 years.  The debauch of the dollar will be even greater if the Fed exceeds its goal of a 2 percent per year increase in the price level.

#4 The Federal Reserve Can Bail Out Whoever It Wants To With No Accountability

The American people got so upset about the bailouts that Congress gave to the Wall Street banks and to the big automakers, but did you know that the biggest bailouts of all were given out by the Federal Reserve?

Thanks to a very limited audit of the Federal Reserve that Congress approved a while back, we learned that the Fed made trillions of dollars in secret bailout loans to the big Wall Street banks during the last financial crisis.  They even secretly loaned out hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign banks.

According to the results of the limited Fed audit mentioned above, a total of $16.1 trillion in secret loans were made by the Federal Reserve between December 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010.

The following is a list of loan recipients that was taken directly from page 131 of the audit report….

Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion

So why haven’t we heard more about this?

This is scandalous.

In addition, it turns out that the Fed paid enormous sums of money to the big Wall Street banks to help “administer” these nearly interest-free loans….

Not only did the Federal Reserve give 16.1 trillion dollars in nearly interest-free loans to the “too big to fail” banks, the Fed also paid them over 600 million dollars to help run the emergency lending program.  According to the GAO, the Federal Reserve shelled out an astounding $659.4 million in “fees” to the very financial institutions which caused the financial crisis in the first place.

Does reading that make you angry?

It should.

#5 The Federal Reserve Is Paying Banks Not To Lend Money

Did you know that the Federal Reserve is actually paying banks not to make loans?

It is true.

Section 128 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 allows the Federal Reserve to pay interest on “excess reserves” that U.S. banks park at the Fed.

So the banks can just send their cash to the Fed and watch the money come rolling in risk-free.

So are many banks taking advantage of this?

You tell me.  Just check out the chart below.  The amount of “excess reserves” parked at the Fed has gone from nearly nothing to about 1.5 trillion dollars since 2008….

But shouldn’t the banks be lending the money to us so that we can start businesses and buy homes?

You would think that is how it is supposed to work.

Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve is not working for us.

The Federal Reserve is working for the big banks.

Sadly, most Americans have no idea what is going on.

Another example of this is the government debt carry trade.

Here is how it works.  The Federal Reserve lends gigantic piles of nearly interest-free cash to the big Wall Street banks, and in turn those banks use the money to buy up huge amounts of government debt.  Since the return on government debt is higher, the banks are able to make large profits very easily and with very little risk.

This scam was also explained in a recent article in the Guardian….

Consider this: we pretend that banks are private businesses that should be allowed to run their own affairs. But they are the biggest scroungers of public money of our time. Banks are lent vast sums of money by central banks at near-zero interest. They lend that money to us or back to the government at higher rates and rake in the difference by the billion. They don’t even have to make clever investments to make huge profits.

That is a pretty good little scam they have got going, wouldn’t you say?

#6 The Federal Reserve Creates Artificial Economic Bubbles That Are Extremely Damaging

By allowing a centralized authority such as the Federal Reserve to dictate interest rates, it creates an environment where financial bubbles can be created very easily.

Over the past several decades, we have seen bubble after bubble.  Most of these have been the result of the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates artificially low.  If the free market had been setting interest rates all this time, things would have never gotten so far out of hand.

For example, the housing crash would have never been so horrific if the Federal Reserve had not created such ideal conditions for a housing bubble in the first place.  But we allow the Fed to continue to make the same mistakes.

Right now, the Federal Reserve continues to set interest rates much, much lower than they should be.  This is causing a tremendous misallocation of economic resources, and there will be massive consequences for that down the line.

#7 The Federal Reserve System Is Dominated By The Big Wall Street Banks

Even since it was created, the Federal Reserve system has been dominated by the big Wall Street banks.

The following is from a previous article that I did about the Fed….

The New York representative is the only permanent member of the Federal Open Market Committee, while other regional banks rotate in 2 and 3 year intervals.  The former head of the New York Fed, Timothy Geithner, is now U.S. Treasury Secretary.  The truth is that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has always been the most important of the regional Fed banks by far, and in turn the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has always been dominated by Wall Street and the major New York banks.

#8 It Is Not An Accident That We Saw The Personal Income Tax And The Federal Reserve System Both Come Into Existence In 1913

On February 3rd, 1913 the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.  Later that year, the United States Revenue Act of 1913 imposed a personal income tax on the American people and we have had one ever since.

Without a personal income tax, it is hard to have a central bank.  It takes a lot of money to finance all of the government debt that a central banking system creates.

It is no accident that the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 and the Federal Reserve system was also created in 1913.

They have a symbiotic relationship and they are designed to work together.

We could fill Congress with people that are committed to ending this oppressive system, but so far we have chosen not to do that.

So our children and our grandchildren will face a lifetime of debt slavery because of us.

I am sure they will be thankful for that.

#9 The Current Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, Has A Nightmarish Track Record Of Incompetence

The mainstream media portrays Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as a brilliant economist, but is that really the case?

Let’s go to the videotape.

The following is an extended excerpt from an article that I published previously….

———-

In 2005, Bernanke said that we shouldn’t worry because housing prices had never declined on a nationwide basis before and he said that he believed that the U.S. would continue to experience close to “full employment”….

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.”

In 2005, Bernanke also said that he believed that derivatives were perfectly safe and posed no danger to financial markets….

“With respect to their safety, derivatives, for the most part, are traded among very sophisticated financial institutions and individuals who have considerable incentive to understand them and to use them properly.”

In 2006, Bernanke said that housing prices would probably keep rising….

“Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.”

In 2007, Bernanke insisted that there was not a problem with subprime mortgages….

“At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.”

In 2008, Bernanke said that a recession was not coming….

“The Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession.”

A few months before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed, Bernanke insisted that they were totally secure….

“The GSEs are adequately capitalized. They are in no danger of failing.”

For many more examples that demonstrate the absolutely nightmarish track record of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, please see the following articles….

*”Say What? 30 Ben Bernanke Quotes That Are So Stupid That You Won’t Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry

*”Is Ben Bernanke A Liar, A Lunatic Or Is He Just Completely And Totally Incompetent?

But after being wrong over and over and over, Barack Obama still nominated Ben Bernanke for another term as Chairman of the Fed.

———-

#10 The Federal Reserve Has Become Way Too Powerful

The Federal Reserve is the most undemocratic institution in America.

The Federal Reserve has become so powerful that it is now known as “the fourth branch of government”, but there are less checks and balances on the Fed than there are on the other three branches.

The Federal Reserve runs the U.S. economy but it is not accountable to the American people.  We can’t vote those that run the Fed out of office if we do not like what they do.

Yes, the president appoints those that run the Fed, but he also knows that if he does not tread lightly he won’t get the money from the big Wall Street banks that he needs for his next election.

Thankfully, there are a few members of Congress that are complaining about how much power the Fed has.  For example, Ron Paul once told MSNBC that he believes that the Federal Reserve is now actually more powerful than Congress…..

“The regulations should be on the Federal Reserve. We should have transparency of the Federal Reserve. They can create trillions of dollars to bail out their friends, and we don’t even have any transparency of this. They’re more powerful than the Congress.”

As members of Congress such as Ron Paul have started to shed some light on the activities of the Federal Reserve, that has caused many in the mainstream media to come to the defense of the Fed.

For example, a recent CNBC article entitled “If The Federal Reserve Is Abolished, What Then?” makes it sound like there is absolutely no other rational alternative to having the Federal Reserve run our economy.

But this is not what our founders intended.

The founders did not intend for a private banking cartel to issue our money and set our interest rates for us.

According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress has been given the responsibility to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.

So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?

But the CNBC article mentioned above makes it sound like the sky would fall if control of the currency was handed back over to the American people.

At one point, the article asks the following question….

“How would the U.S. economy then function? Something has to take its place, right?”

No, the truth is that we don’t need anyone to “manage” our economy.

The U.S. Treasury could be in charge of issuing our currency and the free market could set our interest rates.

We don’t need to have a centrally-planned economy.

We aren’t China.

And it goes against everything that our founders believed to be running up so much government debt.

For example, Thomas Jefferson once declared that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing….

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Oh, how things would have been different if we had only listened to Thomas Jefferson.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  These are things that every American should know about the Federal Reserve, and we need to educate the American people about the Fed while there is still time.

Yes, It Is Halftime In America – So Now Is The Time To Get Your Financial Priorities In Order

Did you see the Chrysler commercial featuring Clint Eastwood that aired during the Super Bowl the other night?  It was entitled “It’s Halftime In America”, and it was truly a great ad.  To me, it was the most memorable Super Bowl ad this year by far.  It conjured up images of the America that so many of us remember so fondly.  It reminded us of how life in this country used to be.  Unfortunately, America is currently headed down a road that is taking us in the opposite direction.  Yes, it is halftime in America, but there is no guarantee that what is ahead is going to be great.  In fact, if we continue to make the same choices that we have been making, a national nightmare is inevitable.  Let us hope and pray for a fundamental change of direction for America, but let us also prepare for what is going to happen if that does not take place.  There is a “pause in the action” at the moment, so now is the time to get your financial priorities in order.  Now is the time to prepare for the storm that is coming.  If you wait until the storm is right on top of you it will probably be too late.

But I must admit that I really loved that ad.  First of all, any Super Bowl ad that includes Clint Eastwood is almost automatically going to be a great ad.  Secondly, it was very refreshing to see a commercial address some of the very serious problems that this country is facing.

The ad ended with Eastwood making the following statement….

“This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again, and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Ya, it’s halftime in America, and our second half is about to begin”

A video of the complete ad is posted below….

Kudos to Chrysler for producing such an extraordinary ad.  I have to admit that I actually prefer Chrysler to Ford and GM.  I like their style and I think they make some very nice vehicles.

But Chrysler is far from out of the woods.  They almost went under during the last recession, and if the U.S. economy experiences another major recession they might not survive it.

Yes, Chrysler did earn $183 million in 2011.

But in 2010, Chrysler lost $652 million.

Hopefully Chrysler can string a few more profitable years together, but there is certainly no guarantee that is going to happen.

As I have written about previously, the U.S. auto industry is in the midst of a nightmarish long-term decline.

The combined U.S. market share of the “Big Three” U.S. automakers fell from 70% in 1998 to 53% in 2008.

When you examine the numbers over a longer time frame, they are even more striking.

For example, in 1970 General Motors had about a 60 percent share of the U.S. automobile market, but today that figure is down to about 20 percent.

In an effort to cut costs, U.S. automakers have been eliminating jobs and sending jobs out of the country.

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.

So the U.S. auto industry has not exactly bounced back.

They have survived for now, but there is no guarantee that this is going to be permanent.

Many considered the Chrysler Super Bowl ad to be an endorsement of the auto bailouts and of the economic policies of the Obama administration.

But that wasn’t the case at all.  In fact, it turns out that Clint Eastwood was actually a harsh critic of the auto bailouts as Reuters recently noted….

“We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies,” actor, director and Academy Award winner Eastwood told the Los Angeles Times in November 2011. “If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO.”

And Clint Eastwood certainly did not mean to endorse Obama during the commercial.  The following is what Eastwood told Fox News about the ad….

“I just want to say that the spin stops with you guys, and there is no spin in that ad. On this I am certain.

l am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK.”

The cold, hard reality of the matter is that America has not “bounced back” since 2008.  Sadly, the truth is that we are even in worse condition than we were back then….

-Our national debt has risen by about 50 percent since 2008.

-Our states are in more debt than ever.

-Our local governments are in more debt than ever.

-The U.S. economy has lost about 6 million jobs since 2008.

-Approximately 14 million more Americans have gone on food stamps since Barack Obama became president.

-More Americans are living in poverty than ever before.

-New home sales in the United States hit a brand new all-time record low during 2011.

-The number of “long-term unemployed workers” has more than doubled since Barack Obama entered the White House.

-The amount of money that the federal government gives directly to Americans has increased by 32 percent since Barack Obama entered the White House.

-Despite claims that things are “getting better”, the truth is that the percentage of Americans that actually have jobs is almost exactly the same as it was two years ago.

Amazingly, Barack Obama seems to think that he has done a good job and that he deserves a second term.  On Sunday, Obama told NBC’s Matt Lauer the following….

“I deserve a second term, but we’re not done”

Many Americans are buying into the hype.  A new ABC News/Washington Post poll has found that Barack Obama’s approval rating is actually rising.

But it won’t last long.  As the economy crumbles his approval rating will start going down once again.

The sad truth is that America is in the middle of a long-term economic decline because our economy is not built on a solid foundation.

The false prosperity that we are enjoying now is being fueled by the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.  We consume far more wealth than we produce, and we pay for it by constantly going into more debt.

At some point the merry-go-round is going to stop and when it does it is going to be incredibly painful.

An increasing number of Americans are waking up to this reality.  One recent survey found that 61 percent of all Americans believe that there will be “a major catastrophic event” in the United States within the next 20 years.  A significant portion of them believe that the “catastrophic event” will be economic in nature.

That same survey found that only 15 percent of all Americans feel as though they are completely prepared for the coming catastrophic event.

Remember what happened back in 2008.  When the financial crisis struck, millions of Americans lost their jobs very rapidly.  Since many of them did not have any money stored up, a lot of them lost their homes as well.

Since it is “halftime in America”, now is the time to get prepared for the next great financial crisis.

Now is the time to reduce your expenses.

Now is the time to get out of debt.

Now is the time to set aside some money so that you will have something to live on if you do happen to lose your job.  I typically recommend that you have at least 6 months of living expenses stored up.

Now is the time to start a side business.  Even if you are broke, there are some businesses out there that you can start up for no money.  It isn’t easy to start a business with no money, but it can be done.

Now is the time to grow a garden.  Fruits and vegetables are often some of the most expensive items at the grocery store, and by growing them yourself you become less dependent on the system.

And that is the key.  We all want to try to become less dependent on the system.

There is no guarantee that your job will always be there.

There is no guarantee that your insurance company or the financial institutions that you are working with today will always be there.

There is no guarantee that the government will be there “to save you” when you really need it.

Yes, it is halftime in America.

So get ready for the second half, because it is going to be a real nightmare.

America After Dark: Desperate Meth Heads, Rampant Human Trafficking And Millions Of Criminal Predators Searching For A New Victim

When the sun goes down every night, America becomes a very frightening place.  There are communities all over the country where drug dealing, human trafficking and gang violence have gotten so out of control that authorities don’t really know what to do about it.  In America tonight, thousands of meth heads will break into homes as they desperately search for enough money for another hit.  In America tonight, thousands of children will be sold for sex at truck stops and on street corners.  In America tonight, millions of criminal predators will be searching for a new victim.  From the top levels of the federal government all the way down to the most depraved criminals on the street, America is rotting.  Once upon a time our tremendous affluence masked the moral decay that was happening in this nation, but now that the economy is falling apart the damage to the fabric of our society is being revealed.  We have become a nation of addicts, junkies, thrill seekers and predators.  When we finally see the U.S. economy fully collapse, millions of desperate, angry and depraved monsters will take out their sick frustrations on all the rest of us.

It isn’t talked a lot about anymore, but the meth epidemic in America is getting worse.  According to PBS, there are approximately 1.4 million meth users in America.  Meth is unbelievable addictive and it can absolutely destroy your life.  If you doubt this, just check out these before and after pictures.

Sadly, there are indications that meth use is on the rise once again.  According to the DEA, meth seizures increased from 2,839 in 2007 to 6,168 in 2010.

When you take meth, it can literally make you crazy.  The following is from a recent USA Today article….

A mother in Bakersfield, California, was sentenced Tuesday for stabbing her newborn while in a meth rage. An Oklahoma woman drowned her baby in a washing machine in November. A New Mexico woman claiming to be God stabbed her son with a screwdriver last month, saying, “God wants him dead.”

Large numbers of meth addicts turn into thieves when they run out of money.  Often, they will steal just about anything they can in order to get money for their next hit.  Some things that meth addicts have stolen recently include agricultural plumbing, copper wiring and lawn sprinklers.

And making meth can be extremely dangerous as well.  U.S. hospitals are filled with thousands and thousands of uninsured burn patients that were horribly burned while trying to make “shake and bake” meth.

The following comes from a recent Daily Mail article….

It is filling hospitals with thousands of uninsured burn patients requiring millions of dollars in advanced treatment – a burden so costly that it is contributing to the closure of some burns units.

So-called ‘shake-and-bake’ meth is produced by combining raw, unstable ingredients in a two-litre bottle.

But if the person mixing the noxious brew makes the slightest error, such as removing the cap too soon or accidentally perforating the plastic, the concoction can explode, searing flesh and causing permanent disfigurement, blindness or even death.

A survey of key hospitals in America’s most-active meth states showed that up to a third of patients in some burns units were hurt while making meth, and most were uninsured.

But of course meth is just one of the highly addictive drugs that are plaguing our youth.  There are many other nightmarish drugs that could also be discussed.  Nearly every community in America is dealing with some sort of a drug problem, and despite the “war on drugs” this crisis just seems to keep getting worse every single year.

Perhaps even more alarming is the rise of human trafficking in America.

When I was going through school, I was taught that slavery had been abolished in the United States.

But that was a lie.

Right now, thousands upon thousands of Americans are living as slaves.  Most of them are sex slaves.  As you read this, there are women all over America that are literally chained to beds in dark rooms where men pay their “owners” to have sex with them.

The following stats about human trafficking come from a recent Detroit Free Press article….

• Human trafficking is a $32-billion industry worldwide.

• Up to 2 million people are trafficked worldwide every year. Of those, 15,000-18,000 are in the U.S.

• Eight in 10 human trafficking cases involve the sex industry; the others involve labor trafficking.

• In 2010, 2,515 human trafficking cases were under investigation in the U.S.

• Eighty-three percent of victims in confirmed sex trafficking cases in the U.S. in 2010 were American citizens

Many Americans would be absolutely horrified to learn what goes on behind closed doors in America.

All over the nation tonight, vicious monsters will be selling or “renting” young children to other vicious monsters for sex.

The following story of one human trafficking victim comes from a recent Fox News article….

Today, Keisha Head is a wife and mother of three. But more than decade ago, she was the victim of a notorious human trafficker.

At 16-years old, Head says she was being sold on the streets of Atlanta for sex.

“I did not know that a normal, average man who was a preacher, who was a lawyer, who was a senator – could turn into this monster,” Head said. “That is the scariest moment when you are amongst people who claim to be normal yet they purchase you and they turn into these monsters. They rape you. They beat you. And then act as if they’re normal. These are not your normal pedophiles.”

When you push morality out of the schools and out of public life, this is the kind of thing that starts happening.

Thousands upon thousands of other women “work for themselves” on the streets of America.  Some are willing to let strangers have sex with them for next to nothing.

For example, one woman in Los Angeles was recently arrested for approaching customers at one McDonald’s and offering sexual favors in exchange for Chicken McNuggets.

A lot of really weird stuff happens in America after dark.

As the economy has crumbled, thieves all over the country have become increasingly bold and increasingly desperate.

The following are just a few recent examples….

*In Fresno, California the damage caused by thieves stealing copper wire from city street lights is costing the city approximately $50,000 a month.  So far, about 2,500 street lights have been stripped of their wiring.

*In northern Alabama, one group of crooks has been using a forklift to pull entire ATM machines out of the ground.

*A while back, a team of ambitious thieves in Pennsylvania actually stole an entire 50 foot long bridge.

Other crimes are committed by members of the government.  In Chicago, the bodies of poor people that don’t have enough money to bury themselves are being treated with absolutely no respect at all by government officials.  Just check out what Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says that he found….

“Babies are buried 10, 15 to a box.  They’re buried in there with animal remains.  They’re buried in there with arms and legs from body parts they found during the course of the year.  It is not anything that our county or society should ever sit there and say is acceptable”

Can you imagine that?

What kind of a monster would do such a thing?

Of course I could go on for ages about the sick corruption of our government officials, but that will have to be left for another day.

For now, I want to focus on another rising problem in our society.  As I wrote about the other day, the FBI says that there are now 1.4 million gang members living inside the United States.  That number has risen by an astounding 40 percent since 2009.

Nearly every major U.S. city has areas that are essentially “owned” by gangs.  Some of these gangs are the size of small armies.  For example, it is estimated that the Latin Kings have 18,000 members in the city of Chicago alone.

When civil unrest erupts in America, these organized groups of criminal predators will have a field day.  Even now, law enforcement authorities in many areas of the country are having an incredibly difficult time trying to contain them.

As things fall apart all around us, an increasing number of Americans are coming to the realization that they are not going to be able to depend on someone else to defend themselves and their families.

Perhaps that is why the American people stocked up on firearms at an astounding rate during 2011.

In some areas of the country, a firefight can potentially erupt just about at any time.  The following is from an article that was recently posted on standwitharizona.com….

Barbed wire fencing doesn’t keep illegal aliens off the property anymore. One Starr County, TX rancher doesn’t have time to worry about the illegals these days. He now worries about the smugglers protecting their loads.

“I don’t think they would have any conscience of taking someone’s life,” the rancher says.

He saw that will to kill firsthand. A smuggler shot at him on his own land.

“One round was fired at me, and it missed my head by about two feet,” says the rancher.

He says there’s only way to react.

“Fire all the rounds you have, reload, and do it again,” says the rancher.

We don’t do ourselves any favors by pretending that America is going to somehow turn around and become the safe, friendly place that it used to be.

There are millions of criminal predators in this country today that have little or no conscience.  They don’t care about you, your spouse or your children.  All they care about is feeding their addictions.

In the months and years to come, the economy is going to get worse.  As it does, all of those predators are going to become even more desperate.

Desperate people do desperate things.

America is going to become a very frightening place.  But instead of curling up into a ball and crying about it, the better response is to be strong and courageous and to get prepared the best that you can.

24 Statistics To Show To Anyone Who Believes That America Has A Bright Economic Future

Beware of bubbles of false hope.  Right now there is a lot of talk about how the U.S. economy is improving, but it is all a lie.  The mainstream media can be very seductive.  When you sit down to watch television your brain tends to go into a very relaxed mode.  In such a state, it becomes easy to slip thoughts and ideas past your defenses.  Sometimes when I am watching television I realize what the media is trying to do and yet I can still feel it happening to me.  In this day and age, it is absolutely critical that we all think for ourselves.  When you look at the long-term trends and the long-term numbers, a much different picture of the U.S economy emerges than the one that is painted for us on television.  Over the long-term, the number of good jobs in America has been steadily going down.  Over the long-term, the number of Americans living in poverty and living on food stamps has been steadily going up.  Over the past couple of decades, tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth have gone out of the country.  Our debt is nearly 15 times larger than it was 30 years ago, and U.S. consumer debt has soared by 1700% over the past 40 years.  Year after year the rate of inflation goes up faster than our incomes do, and this is absolutely devastating the middle class.  Anyone who believes that we can keep doing the same things that we have been doing and yet America will still have a bright economic future is delusional.  Until the long-term trends which are taking the U.S. economy straight into the toilet are reversed, any talk of a bright economic future is absolute nonsense.

In America today, we have such a short-term focus.  We are all so caught up with what is happening right now.  Our attention spans seem to get shorter every single year.  At this point it would not be hard to argue that kittens have longer attention spans than most of us do.  (If you have ever owned a kitten you know how short their attention spans can be.)  Things have gotten so bad that most of our high school students cannot even answer the most basic questions about our history.  If people are not talking about it on Facebook or Twitter it is almost as if it does not even matter.

But any serious student of history knows that is is absolutely crucial to examine long-term trends.  And when you look at the long-term trends, it rapidly becomes apparent that the U.S. economy is in the midst of a nightmarish long-term decline.

The following are 24 statistics to show to anyone who believes that America has a bright economic future….

#1 Inflation is a silent tax that steals wealth from all of us.  We continue to shell out increasing amounts of money for the basic things that we need, and yet our incomes are not keeping pace.  Just check out the following example.  Gasoline prices have been trending higher for several years in a row as one blogger recently noted….

January 2009           $1.65

January 2010           $2.57

January 2011           $3.04

January 2012           $3.29

#2 If you can believe it, the average American household spent approximately $4,155 on gasoline during 2011.

#3 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#4 Health care costs continue to rise at a very alarming pace.  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.

#5 Getting a college education has also become insanely expensive in America.  After adjusting for inflation, U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago.

#6 To get the same purchasing power that you got out of $20.00 back in 1970 you would have to have more than $116 today.

#7 To get the same purchasing power that you got out of $20.00 back in 1913 you would have to have more than $457 today.

#8 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added more than 30 million extra people to the population since then.

#9 The U.S. economy is bleeding millions of good jobs.  Greedy CEOs are systematically shipping them overseas and our politicians are standing around and doing nothing about it.  This has gone on year after year after year.  The following is from a recent article by Paul Craig Roberts….

In the first decade of the 21st century, Americans lost 5,500,000 manufacturing jobs. US employment in the manufacture of computer and electronic products fell by 40%; in the production of machinery by 30%, in motor vehicles and and parts by 44%, and in the manufacture of clothing by 66%.

#10 Our economic infrastructure is being torn apart right in front of our eyes.  In 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 have made it legal for big corporations to send millions of jobs to countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, where the tax burden is much lighter and where there are barely any regulations.  The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article posted on Economy in Crisis….

Back in the ‘80s, I called my friend Walter in California and asked: “On your next expansion we need a plant in South Carolina.” Walter replied: “We don’t produce anything in the United States. It’s all in China. China furnishes you the plant on a year-to-year basis. If your investment works out, you don’t have to pay any corporate tax; just reinvest it for another plant and more profit. If it doesn’t work out, you can walk away with no legacy costs. I send a quality controller to watch production. I check on it every day. I don’t have any labor, health, safety, or environmental concerns, and have time to play a round of golf.” The bleeding of jobs off-shore started in the ‘80s — now hemorrhages under Bush and Obama. Waiting for the economy to bounce back; calling this “the worst recession” is a bum rap. The reason the economy hasn’t bounced back since 2008 is because the economy is being off-shored.

#11  As a result of our insane economic policies, our trade balances are absolutely exploding.  For example, the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#12 As you read this, there are millions of Americans out there wondering why they can’t find any jobs.  According to Reuters, 23.7 million American workers are either unemployed or underemployed right now.

#13 The number of good jobs has been steadily shrinking in America.  Since the year 2000, the United States has lost 10% of its middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

#14 Over the last three decades, the percentage of low income jobs has consistently risen.  Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#15 The number of middle class neighborhoods also continues to decline.  In 1970, 65 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.  By 2007, only 44 percent of all Americans lived in “middle class neighborhoods”.

#16 A decade ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult.  By 2010, the United States had fallen to seventh.

#17 Our incomes continue to go down.  Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.

#18 Unfortunately, middle class Americans have been seeing their incomes decline for a very long time.  According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#19 Since 1971, consumer debt in the United States has increased by a whopping 1700%.  Unfortunately, U.S. consumers have still not learned how to stay out of debt.  According to a recent article posted on Financial Armageddon, the rate of personal savings in the United States is rapidly falling right now at the same time that the total amount of consumer credit is absolutely skyrocketing.

#20 The number of children living in poverty in America keeps rising year after year. The percentage of children living in poverty in the United States increased from 16.9 percent in 2006 to nearly 22 percent in 2010.

#21 The number of Americans on food stamps continues to set new all-time records.  Just check out the following progression….

October 2008: 30.8 million Americans on food stamps

October 2009: 37.6 million Americans on food stamps

October 2010: 43.2 million Americans on food stamps

October 2011: 46.2 million Americans on food stamps

#22 The U.S. debt problem has gotten completely and totally out of control.  Recently, the debt of the federal government surpassed 100% of GDP for the first time ever.

#23 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

#24 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.

Are you starting to get the picture?

All of the long-term economic numbers are progressively getting worse.

As the economy continues to crumble, large numbers of Americans are becoming really desperate.  For example, a recent Mother Jones article detailed how large numbers of formerly middle class Americans are now actually growing marijuana in an effort to make ends meet.

As things continue to get worse, people will become even more desperate.  There are millions of people out there that find themselves unable to pay the mortgage and put food on the table for their families.  When people hit rock bottom, they often find themselves doing things that they never dreamed that they would do.

Meanwhile, the big Wall Street banks just keep getting larger and more powerful.  We have allowed the “too big to fail” banks to become much bigger than they have ever been before.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

Wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated at the very top even as the overall economic pie in America continues to get smaller.

As our economic problems become worse, more Americans than ever are trying to find ways to “escape”.

For example, according to one new government report one out of every six adults in America is a binge drinker.

Other Americans “tune out” by watching endless hours of television, by playing endless hours of video games or by indulging in endless hours of other forms of entertainment.

There are even some Americans that are giving up completely.  For example, one elderly man actually robbed a bank just so that he could get arrested and be taken to prison where he would get free health care.

But as I have written about previously, now is not the time to give up.  Instead, now is the time to prepare for the great challenges that are ahead.

Almost every generation in history has been faced with great challenges and great hardships at some point.

Yes, there will be some incredibly hard times ahead, but that also means that there will be a need for some great heroes.

Just because the U.S. economy is falling apart does not mean that life is over.

We are living during one of the most exciting times in all of human history.  Instead of cowering in fear, let us embrace these times and focus on becoming the people that we were created to be.

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