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Retired Air Force Colonel With Three Graduate Degrees Is Homeless And Sleeps In A Van

Blue Van - Photo by SuperTank17What advice would you give to a retired Air Force Colonel that has three graduate degrees and that cannot even find work as a janitor?  59-year-old Robert Freniere once served as a special assistant to General Stanley McChrystal, and he has spent extensive time in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  But now this man who once had an office in the heart of the Pentagon cannot find anyone who will hire him.  In addition to his story, in this article you will also hear about several other middle-aged professionals that cannot find work in this economy either.  Despite what the Obama administration and the mainstream media are telling you, the truth is that there has been no employment recovery in this country.  What you are about to read is absolutely heartbreaking, but it represents the reality of what is really going on out there in the streets of America today.

A lot of unemployed Americans believe that they cannot find work because they don’t have enough “education” or enough “experience”.  Well, the truth is that there are a whole lot of people out there like Freniere that have lots of both and still can’t even get hired as a janitor

After a 30-year military career in which he earned three graduate degrees, rose to the rank of colonel, and served as an aide to Pentagon brass, Robert Freniere can guess what people might say when they learn he’s unemployed and lives out of his van:

Why doesn’t this guy get a job as a janitor?

Freniere answers his own question: “Well, I’ve tried that.”

Freniere, 59, says that his plea for help, to a janitor he once praised when the man was mopping the floors of his Washington office, went unfulfilled. So have dozens of job applications, he says, the ones he has filled out six hours a day, day after day, on public library computers.

So Freniere, a man who braved multiple combat zones and was hailed as “a leading light” by an admiral, is now fighting a new battle: homelessness.

You can read the rest of that article right here.  This just shows how badly the private sector in the United States is failing.  Someone with Freniere’s education and experience should be able to find work easily if our economy truly was healthy.

And of course Freniere is far from alone.  Just consider the story of 59-year-old Nancy Shields

Earlier last year, the 59-year-old Shields lost her townhouse and now rents a single room in her Southern California town. At one point, she managed a team of 60 people for a large retailer. She lost that job in 2011 but took another one—and a 20 percent pay cut—some months later. When that store closed in 2012, her luck ran out, and she has been looking for work ever since.

“My federal [unemployment] benefits (were) about $1,200 a month, and that’s all I get. … I have been very dependent on the generosity of my family members,” Shields said.

Her retirement savings exhausted, Shields said she doesn’t know what she’ll do if Congress doesn’t eventually authorize an extension.

As I have written about previously, a lot of unemployed Americans are going to lose their last lifeline now that their extended unemployment benefits are being cut off.  In fact, it is being projected that a total of 5 million unemployed Americans will lose their benefits by the end of 2014.  Many of those unemployed workers will end up losing everything.  One example of this is 53-year-old biotech researcher Vera Volk

Massachusetts resident Vera Volk also has a master’s degree, but the 53-year-old biotech researcher lost her job at the end of May and has been selling prized possessions in order to stay afloat.

“We’ve had to cash in everything that we could potentially cash in,” Volk said. “We’ve got our water heater down to the lowest we could potentially tolerate.” Volk’s extended unemployment benefits of $480 a week are the couple’s sole source of income. They’re four months behind on their mortgage, and although she and her husband have chronic health conditions, they couldn’t afford to keep paying for health insurance.

What would you do if you lost your job and couldn’t find another one no matter how hard you tried?

How would you stay afloat?

For 37-year-old Jeremy Botta, it is probably going to come down to selling off his most important possessions…

The pickup truck will probably be the first thing to go. 

It’s the first new car that Jeremy Botta has ever bought, using his savings from working for more than 14 years at the same auto repair shop. “I bent over backwards—I worked almost a 100 hours a week on my salary to turn that store around,” said Botta, 37, who was laid off in April after the shop changed owners.

Have you ever worked 100 hours a week?

There are many Americans out there that put in crazy hours month after month and end up with nothing to show for it.

Now Botta is facing the very real possibility that he will have to sell his house just to survive…

“If it comes down to it, I’ll have to sell the house,” says Botta, who bought the place in Bend, Ore., just months before he suddenly lost his job, which netted him as much as $60,000 in a good year. Having already raided his retirement savings, Botta thinks he’ll need to take three or four part-time jobs, working 60 to 70 hours a week just to get by without the unemployment checks.

“I don’t know how people make it on minimum wage,” says Botta. Having applied for nearly 100 jobs without luck—including cashier’s positions at Home Depot and Lowe’s—Botta expects he’ll be pumping gas if he’s lucky.

In a previous article entitled “15 Signs That The Quality Of Jobs In America Is Going Downhill Really Fast“, I detailed how the quality of the jobs in the United States is rapidly deteriorating.

And these days it is not just those with little education that are being forced to work low paying jobs.  In fact, the number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs has doubled since 2007.

In addition, according to a National Employment Law Project study about 60 percent of the jobs that have been “created” since the end of the last recession pay $13.83 or less an hour.

But you can’t support a family on that kind of an income.  In millions of homes in America today, both the father and the mother work multiple jobs and there still isn’t enough money at the end of the month.

The middle class is being systematically destroyed and poverty is absolutely soaring.  In some areas of the country, more than 40 percent of the people live below the poverty line.  You can check out an interactive map which shows where the highest levels of poverty in America are right here.  As you can see, the southern half of the nation has been hit particularly hard.

In a desperate attempt to stay afloat, more Americans than ever are turning to emergency loans.  I have written about the payday loan scam previously, but now a new twist on that scam has emerged.

They are being called “workplace loans”, and companies all over America are beginning to offer them as “benefits” to their workers.  But the effective annual percentage rate on these loans can be as high as 165 percent

Arizona Restaurant Systems Inc., a Scottsdale, Ariz., company that operates 28 Sonic locations in the state, allows workers to take out loans ranging from $150 to $500 that typically last two weeks.

The fees, ranging from $8 to $25 plus interest, don’t go to the restaurant franchisee, but to a lender called Think Finance Inc., which makes the loans. Based on the fees, the loans carry an effective annual percentage rate of 100% to 165%.

Please don’t get trapped in any of those loans.  They simply are not worth it.

Unfortunately, this is just the start of our economic problems.  We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline that will soon greatly accelerate.

And despite relentless propaganda from the mainstream media about how “good” things are, most Americans are very pessimistic about where things are headed.  According to a survey conducted in December by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 54 percent of all Americans believe that life in America will “go downhill” as we approach 2050, and only 23 percent believe that life will improve during the next few decades.

Also, Americans seem to have very little faith in the federal government at this point.  According to a shocking new poll that was just released, only one out of every 20 Americans believe that the government is functioning well and needs no changes, and 70 percent of all Americans do not have confidence that the government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”

If you are waiting for our politicians to fix everything and save the day, you can quit holding your breath.  They are way too busy having fun and raising money for their next campaigns.

For example, despite the fact that our country is falling apart all around us, Barack Obama just took an extended holiday vacation out in Hawaii and played his 160th round of golf since taking office.

Our “leaders” are not going to rescue us from what is coming.  That is why it is imperative to get prepared for the coming storm while you still can.

Time is running out.

Blue Van - Photo by SuperTank17

If You Could Make More Money By Going On Welfare Instead Of Working, Would You Do It?

Watching TelevisionIf you could stay home and relax all day and actually make more money than you do at your current job, would you do it?  That sounds crazy, but this is actually a very real dilemma for millions upon millions of Americans.  According to a shocking new study that was just released by the Cato Institute, people on welfare are actually better off than minimum wage workers in 35 U.S. states.  And in 13 states, those on welfare actually do better than those making $15 an hour.  So why bother?  It is very difficult to find a job in this economy, especially a good one.  As I mentioned yesterday, seven out of every eight jobs that have been “created” since Barack Obama has been president have been part-time jobs.  Why slave away flipping burgers, stocking shelves for some retail giant or working for some temp agency when you could just sit home and make more money collecting government checks?  Yes, there is definitely a minority of Americans that hate the idea of becoming dependent on the government and would never want to take advantage of the system like that, but that minority seems to be shrinking.  At this point, about half the country gets money from the government each month anyway, so why not collect “your share”?  If someone is offering to give you something for free, it is only human nature to be at least a little bit tempted.  And right now the federal government is making it extremely tempting to give up on work entirely and become a permanent welfare check collector.

Before people start getting really upset, let me once again reiterate that most of the people that are receiving financial assistance from the government actually need it.  Not everyone is abusing the system, and not everyone is using their food stamps to buy lobster.

Poverty in the United States has absolutely exploded in recent years, and our economy simply does not produce enough jobs for everyone anymore.  We certainly do not want those without jobs to go hungry or to be sleeping in the streets.

But what we have today is a situation where there is a huge incentive in many states to actually give up on work entirely and become a dependent of the state instead.

According to the Cato Institute, someone in the state of New York that goes on welfare can bring home more in money and benefits than an entry-level school teacher makes in an entire year…

The federal government funds 126 separate programs targeted towards low-income people, 72 of which provide either cash or in-kind benefits to individuals. (The rest fund community-wide programs for low-income neighborhoods, with no direct benefits to individuals.) State and local governments operate more welfare programs. Of course, no individual or family gets benefits from all 72 programs, but many do get aid from a number of them at any point in time.

Today, the Cato institute is releasing a new study looking at the state-by-state value of welfare for a mother with two children. In the Empire State, a family receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, food stamps, WIC, public housing, utility assistance and free commodities (like milk and cheese) would have a package of benefits worth $38,004, the seventh-highest in the nation.

While that might not sound overly generous, remember that welfare benefits aren’t taxed, while wages are. So someone in New York would have to earn more than $21 per hour to be better off than they would be on welfare. That’s more than the average statewide entry-level salary for a teacher.

If you are going to live off of welfare, the key is to pick the right state.  Not all states offer the same level of benefits.

In some states, you have to make far more than the minimum wage before it pays not to be on welfare.  In fact, there are 12 different states where you actually have to make more than $15 an hour before you start doing better than welfare recipients…

Nationwide, our study found that the wage-equivalent value of benefits for a mother and two children ranged from a high of $60,590 in Hawaii to a low of $11,150 in Idaho. In 33 states and the District of Columbia, welfare pays more than an $8-an-hour job. In 12 states and DC, the welfare package is more generous than a $15-an-hour job.

Of course not all welfare recipients take advantage of all of the programs that they are eligible for.  But if you do know how to work the system, you can live very comfortably at the expense of the government in many states.

So what is the solution?

Well, it would be great if we had enough jobs for everyone, but that is definitely not the case.  In fact, the U.S. economy is probably going to continue to lose good jobs in the years ahead if current trends continue.

Unfortunately, that also means that poverty and dependence on the government are likely going to continue to grow, especially when the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes.

If you want to get an idea of where we are headed, just look at Detroit.  Once upon a time, Detroit actually had the highest per capita income in the entire country.  But now it is a rotting, festering, bankrupt hellhole where tens of thousands of stray dogs freely roam the streets…

As many as 50,000 stray dogs roam the streets and vacant homes of bankrupt Detroit, replacing residents, menacing humans who remain and overwhelming the city’s ability to find them homes or peaceful deaths.

One Humane Society official that recently visited the city to help deal with the dog crisis described what she witnessed as “almost post-apocalyptic“…

The number of strays signals a humanitarian crisis, said Amanda Arrington of the Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington. She heads a program that donated $50,000 each to organizations in Detroit and nine other U.S cities to get pets vaccinated, fed, spayed and neutered.

Arrington said when she visited Detroit in October, “It was almost post-apocalyptic, where there are no businesses, nothing except people in houses and dogs running around.”

“The suffering of animals goes hand in hand with the suffering of people.”

But don’t laugh at Detroit.

The rest of the country is going down the exact same path.

Just recently, Charles Nenner told Newsmax TV that another recession is rapidly approaching that that it is “going to be bad”…

Technical analyst Charles Nenner didn’t mince words when asked about the United States facing another recession.

“It’s going to be bad,” Nenner told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

And it looks like the folks in Washington are getting very concerned about all of the economic warnings signs that we have been seeing as well.

Just this week, Barack Obama “held a special, closed door meeting with the heads of the U.S. government’s financial, monetary and oversight agencies. It included members of the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, the CFTC, the SEC, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.”

So why did Obama gather all of the top financial officials for a secret closed door meeting?

John Embry told King World News that he thinks it is because the administration is deeply alarmed about what is happening in the financial markets…

I firmly believe the reason the President has called this meeting today is because if interest rates in the U.S. continue to rise, it could really unleash something disastrous. We are talking here about the possibility of a meltdown. It’s interesting that the President would call in that many big hitters, the head of every significant financial agency in the United States, as well as the Fed and the Comptroller of the Currency, etc — this is a very large meeting today.

I’ve always believed that the global financial crisis of 2008 was just the opener. We have now bought the better part of 5 years now through unlimited money creation. But as we head into this next massive, and what I believe will be a larger round of destabilization, I want KWN readers around the world to understand that the central planners don’t have the same weapons to fight this global financial crisis. This is why I believe they are desperately attempting right now, today in this meeting, to stave off this crisis.

And the truth is that our “leaders” in Washington have good reason to be concerned.  If interest rates keep going up rapidly we are going to be in for a world of hurt.

Sadly, most Americans seem to have already forgotten how painful 2008 was, and that was only a preview of coming attractions.

The worst economic crisis in the history of the United States is on the horizon, and most people are going to be absolutely blindsided by it.

I hope that you are getting prepared while you still can.

37 Facts That Show How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families

Have you ever laid in bed awake at night with a knot in your stomach because you didn’t know how your family was possibly going to make it through the next month financially?  Have you ever felt the desperation of not being able to provide the basic necessities for your family even though you tried as hard as you could?  All over America tonight, there are millions of desperate families that are being ripped apart by this economy.  There aren’t nearly enough jobs, and millions of Americans that actually do have jobs aren’t making enough to even provide the basics for their families.  When you have tried everything that you can think of and nothing works, it can be absolutely soul crushing.  Today, one of my regular readers explained that he was not going to be online for a while because his power had been turned off.  He has been out of work for quite a while, and eventually the money runs out.  Have you ever been there?  If you have ever experienced that moment, you know that it stays with you for the rest of your life.  If you are single that is bad enough, but when you have to look into the eyes of your children and explain to them why there won’t be any dinner tonight or why they have to move into a homeless shelter it can feel like someone has driven a stake into your heart.  In this article you will find a lot of very shocking economic statistics.  But please remember that behind each statistic are the tragic stories of millions of desperately hurting American families.

Over the past decade, things have steadily gotten worse for American families no matter what our politicians have tried.  Poverty and government dependence continue to rise.  The cost of living continues to go up and incomes continue to go down.  It is truly frightening to think about what this country is going to look like if current trends continue.

The following are 37 facts that show how cruel this economy has been to millions of desperate American families…

1. One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

2. A different recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.

3. In the United States today, there are close to 10 million households that do not have a single bank account.  That number has increased by about a million since 2009.

4. Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.

5. The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.

6. Median household income has fallen for four years in a row.  Overall, it has declined by more than $4000 over the past four years.

7. 62 percent of middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.

8. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is more difficult to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.

9. In the United States today, 77 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.

10. In the United States today, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans are not working.

11. Since January 2009, the “labor force” in the United States has increased by 827,000, but “those not in the labor force” has increased by 8,208,000.  This is how they have gotten the unemployment numbers to “come down”.

12. Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

13. Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.

14. Right now, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

15. At this point, less than 25 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs”, and that number continues to shrink.

16. There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

17. According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.

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

19. In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

20. Health insurance premiums rose faster than the overall rate of inflation in 2011 and that is happening once again in 2012.  In fact, it has been happening for a very long time.

21. According to one recent survey, approximately 10 percent of all employers in the United States plan to drop health coverage when key provisions of the new health care law kick in less than two years from now.

22. Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.

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

24. Total consumer debt in the United States has risen by 1700 percent since 1971.

25. Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.

26. According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are not paying their bills on time at this point.

27. Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living at home with their parents.

28. The percentage of Americans that find that they are able to retire when they reach retirement age continues to decline.  According to one new survey, 70 percent of middle class Americans plan to work during retirement and 30 percent plan to work until they are at least 80 years old.

29. The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.

30. In 2010, the number of jobs created at new businesses in the United States was less than half of what it was back in the year 2000.

31. Back in 2007, 19.2 percent of all American families had a net worth of zero or less than zero.  By 2010, that figure had soared to 32.5 percent.

32. Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

33. In the United States today, somewhere around 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.

34. In October 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps.

35. Approximately one-fourth of all children in the United States are enrolled in the food stamp program.

36. Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.

37. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government.  Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.

What makes all of this even more frightening is that many homeless shelters and food banks around the nation are so overloaded at this point that they are already over capacity.  Just consider this example

When Janice Coe, a homeless advocate in Loudoun County, learned through her prayer group that a young woman was sleeping in the New Carrollton Metro station with a toddler and a 2-month-old, she sprang into action.

Coe contacted the young woman and arranged for her to take the train to Virginia, where she put the little family up in a Comfort Suites hotel. Then Coe began calling shelters to see who could take them.

Despite several phone calls, she came up empty. Coe was shocked to learn that many of the local shelters that cater to families were full, including Good Shepherd Alliance, where Coe was once director of social services.

“I don’t know why nobody will take this girl in,” Coe said. “The baby still had a hospital bracelet on her wrist.”

Keep in mind that Loudoun Country is smack dab in the middle of one of the wealthiest areas of Virginia.

So if things are that bad in the wealthy areas, exactly how bad are things getting in many of the poorer areas?

Unfortunately, things continue to get worse for this economy.  DuPont has just announced plans to eliminate 1,500 jobs.  There are more major layoff announcements almost every single day.  So how bad will things get when our crumbling economic system finally collapses?  When kind of chaos will be unleashed all over the nation when millions upon millions of Americans finally lose all hope?

In the introduction to this article, I mentioned that one of my regular readers has had his lights turned off.  The following is how he described his situation

No gas, no water, no electricity at my house. Couldn’t pay the bills. I’m broke. Desperately searching for any means of income, or at least enough cash to get the juice (electricity) restored.

Typing this missive in a dark house using the battery on my laptop. Feels like I’m camping out at home. Hope to get this situation fixed tomorrow… somehow. Needless to say, I *…. hate this.

I was ready for this, but it is still a major league inconvenience. For those of you who DO have power, etc. – and are not ready… oh brother. You need to get ready. Seriously, you do. Because what I’m going through is just an inconvenience. It may someday be a normal occurence. Ugh. (expletives deleted)

Hopefully a way can be found to get his situation turned around, but the truth is that there are tens of millions of other similar stories out there in America today.

What about you?  What are things like in your neck of the woods?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below…

You Will Not Believe What Some People Are Willing To Do For A Paycheck These Days

It is absolutely amazing what some people will do to make a living in this economy.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we have not seen this kind of desperation for jobs in America since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  What some people are willing to put up with just to bring home a paycheck these days will totally shock you.  For example, would you slaughter dogs all day long even though you are really a dog lover?  Would you personally train your replacement from China even though you knew he was about to take your job?  Would you trade sex for a job?  There are people out there actually doing all these things and worse.  Every night in America, millions upon millions of people roll around endlessly in their beds and stare at their ceilings for hours because they can’t sleep.  They are sick to their stomachs because their money is gone and nobody will hire them.  They can’t provide even the basics for their families and they feel worthless.  Unemployment can be absolutely soul crushing and it can suck the life right out of you.  Things were supposed to be better by now, but they aren’t.  The month after Barack Obama took office the unemployment rate broke the 8 percent barrier and it has stayed above it ever since.  But the truth is that the “official” unemployment number greatly understates the real amount of suffering that is going on out there.  In reality, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is lower today than when the last recession ended.  There are millions upon millions of Americans that are desperate for some hope, and there is no hope on the horizon.  In fact, things are going to be getting a whole lot worse for the U.S. economy.

I like personal stories because they tell us things that all of the economic statistics in the world never could.

There are millions of Americans that have had their lives totally turned upside down by this economy.  They feel abandoned and worthless, and many of them feel as though life is no longer worth living.

As you read the following stories, try to put yourself in their shoes and try to feel their pain.

Also, try to remember that these kinds of stories are going to multiply in the years ahead as the U.S. economy falls apart all around us.

A 61-Year-Old Woman Begging For A Job

A recent article posted on gawker.com included the story of a 61-year-old woman who has been through hell and back during this economic downturn….

I sent out close to 500 resumes. Most never were even acknowledged and those that were I was told I was over qualified. When you would press them they would fumble but I was sure my age was part of the “over qualified”. The thoughts of wanting life to be over were with me every day. I wanted the horror to stop. Every time I would hear of the unemployment rates I would cry-what about ME.

At one point she was so desperate she took a job where she was making the decision about what dogs to slaughter at an animal shelter.  Approximately 85 percent of the dogs at the shelter ended up being killed, and she was working about 80 hours a week doing this.  The really sad part is that she really loves dogs….

In 2008 I was able to get a job at the local shelter as a dog trainer. That turned into a job as an Operations Manager. Though I was thankful for the job we had a euthanasia rate of nearly 85%. I was the one that would be the decision maker on who lives and dies of over 10,000 animals per year and the toll mentally was hard. Being salary I was working nearly 80 hours a week due to shorthanded staff.

After she was fired for not being aggressive enough in killing off dogs, she started endlessly sending out resumes once again.  Nobody wants to hire her, and she essentially feels like an old lady begging for a job….

Since February I began sending out 3 resumes a day. As the no return answer, over qualified and now I was getting I was out of engineering too long I started to set my sights lower. I have sent in resumes to sit in the booth in gas stations, secretary and so on. Local colleges have said I am qualified to teach there but they have no openings. I am for all purposes the old lady begging for a job.

Personally Training Their Replacements

If you knew that your company was going to tear down your factory and send your job to China, would you personally train your replacement?

That is what a whole bunch of workers in Illinois are doing.

The following is from a recent article that appeared in the Guardian….

The shock of losing a precious job in a town afflicted by high unemployment is always hard. A foundation for a stable family life and secure home instantly disappears, replaced with a future filled with fears over health insurance, missed mortgage payments and the potential for a slip below the breadline.

But for Bonnie Borman – and 170 other men and women in Freeport, Illinois – there is a brutal twist to the torture. Borman, 52, and the other workers of a soon-to-be-shuttered car parts plant are personally training the Chinese workers who will replace them.

It’s a surreal experience, they say. For months they have watched their plant being dismantled and shipped to China, piece by piece, as they show teams of Chinese workers how to do the jobs they have dedicated their lives to.

Can you imagine that?

Would you be willing to do the same thing just to keep the paychecks coming in for as long as possible?

Sadly, both major political parties are obsessed with promoting unrestricted free trade even though millions of American jobs continue to go overseas.

Our top political candidates even argue about which of them love “free trade” more.

It truly is sickening.

Do you remember when U.S. taxpayers bailed out the auto industry?

Well, since the auto industry bailout approximately 70 percent of all GM vehicles have been built outside the United States.

The insanity has gotten to such a level that some Americans simply cannot take it anymore.  Just consider the following example from a recent article by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele….

On his last day on the job, Kevin Flanagan, after clearing out a few personal effects and putting them in boxes in the back of his Ford Ranger, left the building where he’d worked for seven years.

He settled into the front seat of his pickup truck on the lower level of the company garage, placed a 12-gauge Remington shotgun to his head, and pulled the trigger. He was 41 years old.

He was a computer programmer. He’d been a programmer his entire working life. Until, that is, his job was shipped overseas. The business of moving traditional U.S. jobs abroad-called “outsourcing”-has been one of this country’s few growth industries. It’s the ultimate short-sighted business promoted by the country’s elite because it means lower wages and fatter profits. As for the American workers eliminated along the way, they are just collateral damage.

It turns out that Kevin’s replacement was a programmer from India that he personally trained.

Trading Sex For A Job

If you were truly desperate, would you trade sex for a job?

I hope not, but that is exactly what some Americans are doing.

The following is a story from a desperate unemployed woman that was posted on gawker.com recently….

I have been very depressed since I lost my job. I go through periods where I spend most of my days in bed, and although I’ve had a few interviews those people don’t even have the decency to let you know the position is filled. Sometimes I’d call for weeks asking for updates only to get the HR persons voicemail, and they’d never return my calls. With no experience I can’t even get a job waiting tables. I apply to every job in the paper and online, whether I’m qualified or not, and have had 7 interviews total, none of which ended with a job offer. Living paycheck to paycheck would be a blessing at this point.

She has become so desperate that she is even willing to trade her body for a paycheck….

The current ‘bright side’ is that I know someone who owns a small retail clothing chain and has offered me a minimum wage job there on the condition that we become ‘close friends’. I think you & I both know what that entails, but at this time in my life it seems like a better alternative than losing the little that I have. I’d have a paycheck equal to what I am getting on unemployment with the opportunity for overtime and advancements, full benefits and a schedule that would allow me to continue schooling.

A Lot More Layoffs Coming Soon

The frightening thing is that a whole lot more layoffs are on the horizon.

Just check out this excerpt from a recent article on thehill.com….

Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney are going forward with plans to issue layoff notices to thousands of employees due to looming defense cuts under sequestration, despite administration claims that such warnings are unnecessary.

So how many jobs will be lost?

Unfortunately, it is being projected that we could be looking at a million jobs lost….

Top industry officials have said publicly that automatic cut under sequestration could lead to the loss of 1 million defense-related jobs.

Industry leaders and their supporters in Congress say those job losses would hit battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida particularly hard.

Like I have written about before, we simply cannot continue to steal more than a trillion dollars from future generations every single year, but when we do make deep cuts to the federal budget the economic pain is going to be immense.

We already have more than 100 million Americans on welfare.

What is this country going to look like if things get even worse?

The good news is that if you do lose your job and your home you might have somewhere to sleep.  New York City is opening up a bunch of new homeless shelters….

New York City has opened nine new shelters in the last two months in efforts to handle the city’s rapidly growing homeless population, officials said.

The city recorded 43,731 homeless people in shelters this week, which is up 18 percent from the 37,143 at the same time last year, The New York Times reported.

So don’t get too down.

If you can’t find a job and you can’t afford a home perhaps you can at least get into one of those shiny new homeless shelters.

Seriously, I don’t actually want anyone reading this to end up in a homeless shelter.

That is why I endlessly urge people to adjust their priorities and to work as hard as they can right now to prepare for the very hard economic times that are coming.

Now is not the time to be going on expensive vacations and now is not the time to be blowing your money on all kinds of stupid stuff.

We are moving into the most difficult times that any of us have ever seen, and if you do nothing to prepare yourself you will be very sorry.

100 Million Poor People In America And 39 Other Facts About Poverty That Will Blow Your Mind

Every single day more Americans fall into poverty.  This should deeply alarm you no matter what political party you belong to and no matter what your personal economic philosophy is.  Right now, approximately 100 million Americans are either “poor” or “near poor”.  For a lot of people “poverty” can be a nebulous concept, so let’s define it.  The poverty level as defined by the federal government in 2010 was $11,139 for an individual and $22,314 for a family of four.  Could you take care of a family of four on less than $2000 a month?  Millions upon millions of families are experiencing a tremendous amount of pain in this economy, and no matter what “solutions” we think are correct, the reality is that we all should have compassion on them.  Sadly, things are about to get even worse.  The next major economic downturn is rapidly approaching, and when it hits the statistics posted below are going to look even more horrendous.

When it comes to poverty, most Americans immediately want to get into debates about tax rates and wealth redistribution and things like that.

But the truth is that they are missing the main point.

The way we slice up the pie is not going to solve our problems, because the pie is constantly getting smaller.

Our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted, the U.S. dollar is slowly losing its status as the reserve currency of the world and we are steadily getting poorer as a nation.

Don’t be fooled by the government statistics that show a very small amount of “economic growth”.  Those figures do not account for inflation.

After accounting for inflation, our economic growth has actually been negative all the way back into the middle of the last decade.

According to numbers compiled by John Williams of shadowstats.com, our “real GDP” has continually been negative since 2005.

So that means we are getting poorer as a nation.

Meanwhile, we have been piling up astounding amounts of debt.

40 years ago the total amount of debt in the United States (government, business and consumer) was less than 2 trillion dollars.

Today it is nearly 55 trillion dollars.

So we have a massive problem.

Our economic pie is shrinking and millions of Americans have been falling out of the middle class.  Meanwhile, we have been piling up staggering amounts of debt in order to maintain our vastly inflated standard of living.  As our economic problems get even worse, those trends are going to accelerate even more.

So don’t look down on the poor.  You might be joining them a lot sooner than you might think.

The following are 40 facts about poverty in America that will blow your mind….

#1 In the United States today, somewhere around 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.

#2 It is being projected that when the final numbers come out later this year that the U.S. poverty rate will be the highest that it has been in almost 50 years.

#3 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

#4 Today, one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the poverty level.

#5 According to the Wall Street Journal, 49.1 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial benefits from the government.  Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.

#6 It is projected that about half of all American adults will spend at least some time living below the poverty line before they turn 65.

#7 Today, there are approximately 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#8 During 2010, 2.6 million more Americans fell into poverty.  That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.

#9 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of “very poor” rose in 300 out of the 360 largest metropolitan areas during 2010.

#10 Since Barack Obama became president, the number of Americans living in poverty has risen by 6 million and the number of Americans on food stamps has risen by 14 million.

#11 Right now, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#12 It is projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.

#13 The poverty rate for children living in the United States is 22 percent, although when the new numbers are released in the fall that number is expected to go even higher.

#14 One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars a year.

#15 Households that are led by a single mother have a 31.6% poverty rate.

#16 In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps.

#17 According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1 percent of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6 percent of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6 percent of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.

#18 Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.

#19 Child homelessness in the United States has risen by 33 percent since 2007.

#20 There are 314 counties in the United States where at least 30% of the children are facing food insecurity.

#21 More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.

#22 A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7 percent) than has ever been measured before.

#23 If you can believe it, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.

#24 A lot of younger Americans have found that they cannot make it on their own in this economy.  Today, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.

#25 Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.

#26 Amazingly, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.

#27 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

#28 At this point, the poorest 50% of all Americans now control just 2.5% of all of the wealth in this country.

#29 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.

#30 Right now, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#31 Half of all American workers earn $505 or less per week.

#32 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”.

#33 Federal housing assistance outlays increased by a whopping 42 percent between 2006 and 2010.

#34 Approximately 50 million Americans do not have any health insurance at all right now.

#35 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#36 It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#37 Back in 1990, the federal government accounted for 32 percent of all health care spending in America.  Today, that figure is up to 45 percent and it is projected to surpass 50 percent very shortly.

#38 Overall, the amount of money that the federal government gives directly to the American people has risen by 32 percent since Barack Obama entered the White House.

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

#40 The unemployment rate in the U.S. has been above 8 percent for 40 months in a row, and 42 percent of all unemployed Americans have been out of work for at least half a year.

Recently, I wrote a long article about why there will never be enough jobs in the United States ever again.

That means that a whole lot of Americans are not going to be able to take care of themselves.

As our economy gets even worse, there is going to be a tremendous need for more love, compassion and generosity all over the country.

Don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand, because someday you may need one yourself.

Scenes Of Despair

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that behind all of the horrible economic numbers that we hear about are millions of real people that have had their lives absolutely devastated by this economy.  Elderly couples are being brutally evicted from their homes, young families are living in their cars, terminally ill people are dying because they cannot afford medication that they need and millions of parents can’t sleep at night as they wrestle with anxiety over not being able to provide for their children.  Often those that lose their jobs or their homes discover that people start looking at them very differently and that there is very little compassion out there these days.  As you will read about below, one major U.S. bank is even kicking an elderly woman with stage 4 breast cancer out of her home because she cannot make her full mortgage payment each month.  When the next major global financial catastrophe happens, we are going to see a whole lot more economic despair.  Will society respond to that crisis by becoming warmer and more compassionate, or will the world around us become even more cold and even more cruel?  As bad as things are right now, it truly is frightening to think about what the world is going to look like after the next major economic downturn.

Many of the stories that you are about to read are truly heartbreaking.  Unfortunately, they represent thousands upon thousands of other stories that never make it into the news….

Foreclosing On An Elderly Woman With Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Wells Fargo is threatening to evict an elderly woman with stage 4 breast cancer named Cindi Davis from her family home in North Carolina….

“They want us to make a house payment of almost $900 a month,” Cindi told the station of their lender, Wells Fargo bank. “We can afford maybe half that. I pay $1,100 a month in prescription medications.”

The couple says they have tried to work with Wells Fargo, even sending notes from Cindi’s doctors explaining her condition, but haven’t been able to come to a workable solution.

“They’re just going to put us out and it’s like, we are willing to pay what we can pay, but it’s not enough,” Cindi said.

Her cancer is in her lungs, lymph nodes and on her liver and she’s gone through a double mastectomy and multiple chemotherapy treatments, but Cindi has handled her disease like a fighter.

Cindi and her husband say that if they are evicted they may have to move in to their pickup truck.

Can you imagine living your last days in a truck as you try desperately to battle stage 4 breast cancer?

Crushing Poverty In Greece

As I have written about before, Greece is essentially experiencing a full-blown economic depression at this point.

There is a severe shortage of medicine in Greece right now, and many doctors are essentially volunteers at this point because so few people can actually afford to pay their bills.  The following description of the chaos in the Greek healthcare system comes from a recent Natural News article….

The economic situation in Greece is only continuing to worsen, as reports indicate that hospitals and care centers throughout the nation are running completely out of medicines, and many healthcare workers are now voluntarily providing care services without pay.

Strapped with spiraling debt, the Greek healthcare, which is government-run, has had to receive gobs of international financial aid just to keep operating with some semblance of normalcy. There has also been plenty of IOUs issued, and desperate patients quietly forking over cash “gifts” to doctors to receive treatments. All in all, the healthcare situation is in utter chaos, save for those that have sacrificed their own time, often free of charge, just to help those in need.

But it is not just the healthcare system that is deeply troubled.

Economic conditions have gotten so bad in Greece that some parents are actually abandoning their children in the streets according to the Daily Mail….

Children are being abandoned on Greece’s streets by their poverty-stricken families who cannot afford to look after them any more.

Youngsters are being dumped by their parents who are struggling to make ends meet in what is fast becoming the most tragic human consequence of the Euro crisis.

Could you ever do that to your children?

Sadly, it looks like things are going to get even worse in Greece.  It is being projected that the unemployment rate in Greece will reach 30 percent by the end of the year.

Economic Shutdown In Portugal

Greece is not the only European nation that is going through an economic nightmare right now.  The truth is that much of southern Europe is virtually shutting down right now.

Simon Black has described what he witnessed during a recent visit to Porto – the second largest city in Portugal….

Excluding the city’s still-bustling tourist areas, it’s very quiet around the city.

Street-level retail shops and restaurants are either devoid of customers or have been vacated. On many blocks I’ve seen more “for lease” signs than operating businesses.

Officially, the unemployment rate is 15.2% in Portugal, and the economy will contract 3% this year… yet the clear lack of economic activity suggests the real figures are much greater.

Without doubt, reality has set in. Locals have capitulated ‘hope’ that the good times will magically re-appear and have adjusted their habits accordingly.

American Families Living In Their Cars

In some areas of the United States you would never even know that an economic crisis is happening, but in other areas things are clearly falling apart very rapidly.  There is a very serious shortage of decent jobs in most parts of the country, and we are seeing clear signs of societal breakdown in many of our major cities.

During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs.  Because a lot of them did not have much money saved up, many of those unemployed Americans also quickly lost their homes.

In the end, some of them ended up living in their vehicles.

And living in a car can be absolute hell.  The following is from an ABC News report….

Three children — one suffering second-degree burns — were taken into protective custody Monday after they were discovered living with their parents in a “filthy” car in a Walmart parking lot.

Police were called to the parking lot Monday morning in Mount Dora, Fla., where they found the family of five living in a 1987 Cadillac Coupe de Ville full of clothes and garbage. Police told the Orlando Sentinel that days-old chicken bones were strewn about the car, along with a spoiled carton of milk and a bottle of tequila.

Other families try to make the best of it that they can.  The following is one touching example from a recent 60 Minutes report….

This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle, 15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter.  And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.

Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?

Arielle Metzger: About five months.

Pelley: What’s that like?

Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.

Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.

Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ‘em?

Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.

Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?

Could you imagine being 13 years old or 15 years old and living in a truck?

Unfortunately, during the next major economic downturn a whole lot more families are going to end up living like this.

Desperately Hoping For Rain

Yesterday I wrote about how corn crops are dying all over the United States right now.

For most Americans, this will just mean higher prices at the grocery store.

But for corn farmers, a lack of rain can be absolutely devastating.  The following are some recent comments from farmers about this crippling drought on agweb.com….

I am a small farmer, but my crops in Wayne County, Ill., are the worst I have had sine 1952-53. Corn will be lucky to make 10 bu. and beans are going downhill. It’s been over 100 degrees for 11 straight days. Bad crop.

—-

Dryland corn is done! Some people in denial need to walk in field. Later corn tasseled and pollinating with no silks! No rain in seven days or low humidity 90 degrees and warmer by weekend. Yield range for corn on our farms…0 to 0 bpa. Soybeans…if it rains which is a big if may have some hope, not holding my breath!!

—–

This is my 50th year of grain farming, so I think that I can say that I’ve seen it all. This is worse than 1988-Much worse for corn. Beans could still be fair if it starts to rain soon. Sat.-Sun. rains totaled only 1/4 inch.

—–

This is worse than 1983 and 1988. Corn yield will be 30 to 40% of last year’s yield. The jury is still out on the beans. $10 corn is likely, because there will be so little of it relative to demand. Very sad…

You can see some incredible pictures of the drought in the middle part of the country right here.

When the economy falls to pieces, the politicians and the big banks get all the air time, but it is average hard working people that feel the most pain.

As the economy gets a lot worse (and it will) there is going to be a huge need for more love and compassion.  The government is not going to be able “to save” everyone, and even now way too many people are falling through the cracks in the “safety net”.

Instead of looking down on the homeless and the unemployed, don’t be afraid to give them a helping hand up.

You never know, you might be the one in need of some assistance someday.

America In Decline: The Soul Crushing Despair Of Lowered Expectations

All over America tonight there are people that believe that their lives are over.  When you do everything that you know how to do to get a job and you still can’t get one it can be absolutely soul crushing.  If you have ever been unemployed for an extended period of time you know exactly what I am talking about.  When you have been unemployed for month after month it can be very tempting to totally cut yourself off from society.  Those that are kind will look at you with pity and those that are cruel will treat you as though you are a total loser.  It doesn’t matter that America is in decline and that our economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for everyone anymore.  In our society, one of the primary things that defines our lives is what we do for a living.  Just think about it.  When you are out in a social situation, what is one of the very first things that people ask?  They want to know what you “do”.  Well, if you don’t “do” anything, then you are not part of the club.  But the worst part of being unemployed for many Americans is the relentless pressure from family and friends.  Often they have no idea how hard it is to find a job in this economy – especially if they still have jobs.  Sometimes the pressure becomes too great.  Sadly, we are seeing unemployment break up a lot of marriages in America today.  Things are really hard out there right now.  A very large number of highly educated Americans have taken very low paying service jobs in recent years just so that they can have some money coming in even as they “look for something else”.  Unfortunately, in many cases that “something else” never materializes.  In the past, America was “the land of opportunity” where anything was possible.  But today America has become “the land of lowered expectations” and the worst is yet to come.

We live during a time when “the American Dream” is literally being redefined.  In the old days, just about anyone could get a good job that would pay enough to make it possible to buy a house, buy a nice car and raise a family.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  The following is from a recent NPR article….

The town of Lorain, Ohio, used to embody this dream. It was a place where you could get a good job, raise a family and comfortably retire.

“Now you can see what it is. Nothing,” says John Beribak. “The shipyards are gone, the Ford plant is gone, the steel plant is gone.” His voice cracks as he describes the town he’s lived in his whole life.

“I mean, I grew up across the street from the steel plant when there was 15,000 people working there,” he says. “My dad worked there. I worked there when I got out of the Air Force. It’s just sad.”

We live in an economy that is in serious decline.  In this environment no job is safe.  In fact, even Goldman Sachs is laying off workers these days.

Millions of Americans are suffering from deep depression because they can’t find jobs.  Many of them are sitting at home right now blankly starting at their television screens as they wonder why nobody wants to hire them.  Some have been unemployed for years and have sent out thousands upon thousands of resumes.  The following is from a recent article by J.D. Hicks….

I have a brilliant cousin with a $180K Syracuse education working part-time at a department store. She has literally sent out 38,000 resumes in the span of a year to no avail. I have another very bright friend with the kindest heart who is so desperate he has applied for dishwashing jobs and didn’t get them, sending him deeper into depression. I’m sure we all know people like this, or perhaps have even been there ourselves.

Society has trained us to believe that we are worthless without a job. Indeed, we feel worthless when we are unemployed with few prospects of making money. Family, friends, and peers constantly remind us in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we “need” a job.

Have you ever been unemployed?

How did it make you feel?

How were you treated by your family and friends?

In the old days, a college education was almost a guaranteed ticket to the middle class.

But these days, a college education guarantees you absolutely nothing.

As a recent article by Jed Graham detailed, most young unemployed workers in America today have at least some college education….

For the first time in history, the number of jobless workers age 25 and up who have attended some college now exceeds the ranks of those who settled for a high school diploma or less.

Out of 9 million unemployed in April, 4.7 million had gone to college or graduated and 4.3 million had not, seasonally adjusted Labor Department data show.

Overall, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.

It is tough to tell young college graduates with their whole lives ahead of them that they need to lower their expectations because America is in decline.

So where did all the jobs go?

Well, one place they went is overseas.  Over the past couple of decades, millions upon millions of good jobs have left the United States and have gone over to the other side of the world.

That is why you see gleaming new factories going up all over China even while our once great manufacturing cities are turning into crime-infested warzones.

But as a recent WND article reported, the WTO has a solution.  They plan to replace “Made in China” labels with “Made in the World” labels so that we don’t feel so bad about losing our jobs and our economic infrastructure…

The World Trade Organization is moving closer to eliminating country-of-origin labels and replacing them with “Made in the World” initiative labels because they say we need to “reduce public opposition to free trade” and “re-engineer global governance.”

As the number of middle class jobs has steadily declined in recent years, the number of low paying service jobs has increased.

In a previous article, I discussed how approximately one out of every four U.S. workers now makes $10 an hour or less.

Could your family survive on 10 dollars an hour?

Today, you can find hordes of very smart, very talented Americans flipping burgers, waiting tables and welcoming people to Wal-Mart.

Sadly, the United States now has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

Perhaps we should applaud our leaders for doing such a great job of destroying the American Dream.

Because so many Americans are working crappy jobs, a very large percentage of them have absolutely no savings to speak of.

According to one survey, 42 percent of all American workers live paycheck to paycheck.

I am constantly encouraging people to save up an “emergency fund” that will enable them to pay their bills for at least 6 months if they suddenly become unemployed.

Unfortunately, for many Americans that is simply not possible.  Way too many families are just barely scraping by from month to month.

Another area of the economy where Americans are facing lowered expectations is in housing.

In the old days, most Americans dreamed of owning their own homes.

But today we are being told that things have changed.  For example, a recent USA Today article was entitled “Home rentals — the new American Dream?“….

Steve and Jodi Jacobson bought their Phoenix-area “dream home” in 2005. They built flagstone steps to the front door. They tiled the kitchen and bathroom. They entertained often, enjoying their mountain views.

“We put our soul into that house,” says Steve Jacobson, 37.

Then, home prices tanked more than 50%. Steve, a software quality assurance engineer, suffered pay cuts. In 2010, foreclosure claimed the home and their $100,000 down payment.

The Jacobsons didn’t lose their desire to live in a single-family home, however. They now rent one, like many other former homeowners displaced by foreclosure.

Is that what we are supposed to tell future generations of Americans?

“Listen Johnny and Suzie, if you work really, really hard at your minimum wage jobs perhaps someday you will be able to rent a home that has been foreclosed by a big, greedy bank”.

It is so sad to watch what is happening to this country.

These days many Americans are scratching and clawing and doing everything that they can to make it, but they still find themselves short on money at the end of the month.

Many are turning to debt in an attempt to bridge the gap.  According to CNN, 40 percent of “low- and middle-income households” are using credit cards to pay for basic living expenses.

Overall, U.S. consumers have more than 11 trillion dollars in debt right now.

That is an incredible number.

As the economy has declined, a lot of families have completely given up trying to make it on their own and have turned to the U.S. government for financial help.  Today, an astounding 49.1 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives government benefits.

Just think about that number for a while.  It is one of the clearest signs that America is in deep, deep decline.

Unfortunately, things are about to get even worse.  The next wave of the financial crisis is unfolding in Europe and we will all be talking about another “major global recession” very soon.

That means that unemployment in the United States is going to get a lot worse.

For the millions upon millions of Americans that are already suffering through the horror of unemployment, that is really bad news.

Posted below is a trailer for a new HBO documentary entitled “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island”.  Please take a few minutes to watch this video, because I think it does a good job of showing the soul crushing despair that many unemployed Americans are going through right now….

So do any of you have any stories of lowered expectations to share?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Class Warfare Is Being Used To Divide America – And It Is Working

At a time when America desperately needs to come together, we are becoming more divided than ever.  The mainstream media and most of our politicians love to pit us against one another in dozens of different ways, and right now class warfare has become one of their favorite tools for getting us to hate one another.  If you are struggling in this economy, you are being told that “the wealthy” are the cause of your problems.  If you have money, you are being told that the poor hate you and want to tax you into oblivion.  Class warfare has already become a dominant theme in the 2012 race for the White House, and there will certainly be endless speeches given along these lines by politicians from both major political parties all the way up to election day.  Class warfare will be used by both sides as a way to divide America and get votes.  And the frightening thing is that it is clearly working.  There is more hatred between the poor and the wealthy in America today than at any other time that I can remember.  But hating people because of how much money they have or don’t have is not going to solve anything.  Instead, it is just going to cause more problems.

The other day, Yale economics professor Robert Shiller told CNBC that the globe is already in a state of “late Great Depression“.  The United States is heading into unprecedented economic and financial problems and we desperately need to pull together as a country and solve these problems.

But instead, our leaders are tapping into the politics of division in a desperate attempt to get elected in the fall.

Rather than focus on real issues and real solutions, our politicians attempt to make “the wealthy” or “welfare recipients” the focus of our debates.

Well, you know what?

Most people that are rich and most people that are poor are not purposely trying to abuse the system.  Most of them are hard working people that are trying to do the best that they can in a world that is increasingly going crazy.

These days, the Occupy Wall Street crowd loves to talk about how evil the “1 percent” is.  But most of the “1 percent” are people that have worked really hard and that have been fortunate enough to get some really good breaks in life.

Yes, there are some among the “1 percent” that do some really bad things.  The too big to fail banks and the big money managers on Wall Street should be held accountable for the crimes that they have committed.

But most wealthy Americans are not trying to oppress the poor.  Most of them are just trying to do the best that they can for themselves and their families.

Neither are most poor people trying to abuse the system either.

Yes, without a doubt there are some that do not want to work and that want to live on government benefits indefinitely.

But that is a minority.

Most Americans that are receiving government benefits today would rather be working good jobs that would enable them to provide for their families.

Most Americans understand that government handouts can never provide dignity and hope for a better future.

But if you don’t demonize the poor and you point out the decline of the middle class, many Republicans will call you a “liberal” or a “socialist”.

And if you don’t demonize the rich and you don’t blame them for all of our economic problems, many Democrats will call you a “pig” or a “fascist”.

Unfortunately, playing the blame game is not going to get us anywhere.

The number of Americans living in poverty increased dramatically under George W. Bush and it also increased dramatically under Barack Obama.

Our country is drowning in debt, millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, the middle class is shrinking at an astounding pace, and the Federal Reserve continues to destroy our financial system.

Getting angry at the wealthy or the poor is not going to fix those problems.

But it will distract us from the reality that both major political parties have been doing a horrible job.

Sadly, Americans seem to really enjoy blaming one another these days.  Just check out some of the slogans that have been seen on various signs at Occupy Wall Street protests….

“They Only Call It Class Warfare When We Fight Back”

“Eat The Rich – Feed The Poor”

“The Rich Are Wrecking The Planet”

So will destroying the lives of the rich solve our problems?

Of course not.

The truth is that we should want millions more Americans to be prosperous.  We should be cheering for one another instead of tearing one another down.

But that is heresy to many on the left.

On the right, it is heresy even to mention that our tax system is fundamentally flawed and that it has thousands of loopholes that are being abused by the very wealthy.

In a previous article, I detailed how many of the largest and most profitable corporations in America get away with paying absolutely nothing in taxes.

There is something very wrong with that.

Our income tax system should be abolished altogether, but if we do have to pay income taxes, then it is fundamentally unfair for some people and businesses to be able to pay little or nothing while the rest of us get absolutely obliterated by taxes.

But if you try to say that to many on the right, they will look at you in horror.

The other day, there was a New York Times article that detailed the extreme measures that Apple takes to avoid paying taxes.  It turns out that Apple sets up shell offices all over the globe in order to evade taxation….

As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.

That same article talked about how Apple has become a model which hundreds of other companies have followed.  To giant corporations such as Apple, tax evasion has become an art form….

Apple, for instance, was among the first tech companies to designate overseas salespeople in high-tax countries in a manner that allowed them to sell on behalf of low-tax subsidiaries on other continents, sidestepping income taxes, according to former executives. Apple was a pioneer of an accounting technique known as the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” which reduces taxes by routing profits through Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean. Today, that tactic is used by hundreds of other corporations — some of which directly imitated Apple’s methods, say accountants at those companies.

So what is the solution to all of this?

Raising income taxes won’t work too well because the tax lawyers are always several steps ahead of our politicians.

The truth is that when taxes get raised it is always the middle class that gets absolutely clobbered and the wealthy always find more ways to reduce their exposure.

Just take a look at Mitt Romney.  He made more than 42 million dollars in 2010 and yet Romney had an effective tax rate of only 14 percent.

If I could find a way to have an effective tax rate of only 14 percent I would be jumping up and down for joy, and so would millions of other Americans.

Our tax system is deeply, deeply broken and needs to be thrown into the trash can.

Abandoning the current tax system would not solve all of our problems, but it would be a start.

Unfortunately, neither political party is willing to even consider this.

Instead, the Democrats want to raise taxes a little bit and the Republicans want to lower taxes a little bit.

But neither alternative will do much of anything to solve any of the real problems we are facing.

Our economy is dying and it is not producing nearly enough jobs for all of us.  When Barack Obama took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in America was 2.6 million.  Today, it is 5.3 million.

At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed.

So where is all of the “change” that Obama promised?

Things just keep getting worse.

Since Obama has been in the White House, 14 million more Americans have gone on food stamps, and more than 25 percent of all American children are enrolled in the program today.

How will class warfare help those people?

Will blaming the wealthy make things better for them?

They are already receiving government handouts.

Will increasing those handouts a little bit more fundamentally change their lives for the better?

Of course not.

What those people need are good jobs.

But instead, both the Democrats and the Republicans continue to pursue the same job killing policies that have been destroying American jobs for decades.

Without good jobs, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to grow.

In a previous article, I detailed the explosive growth of social welfare benefits that we have seen under both Republicans and Democrats….

Back in 1960, social welfare benefits made up approximately 10 percent of all salaries and wages.  In the year 2000, social welfare benefits made up approximately 21 percent of all salaries and wages.  Today, social welfare benefits make up approximately 35 percent of all salaries and wages.

The goal should not be to rape the rich and give out even more social welfare benefits.

Instead, the goal should be to develop an economy that creates good jobs.

We need have an economy that empowers individuals and small businesses.

Instead, we have an economy dominated by big government and big corporations.

We have an economy that funnels the vast majority of the economic rewards to a tiny elite while most of the rest of us struggle.

Just consider the following statistics….

*Back in the 1970s, the top 1 percent of all income earners in the United States brought in about 8 percent of all income.  Today, they bring in about 21 percent of all income.

*The following is how income gains in the U.S. were distributed during 2010….

-37 percent of all income gains went to the top 0.01 percent of all income earners

-56 percent of all income gains went to the rest of the top 1 percent

-7 percent of all income gains went to the bottom 99 percent

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

*According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

So what is the solution to that problem?

Is it to attack the rich and take away all their money and give more government handouts to the poor?

Of course not.

Rather, we need to change the rules of the game so that individuals and small businesses are empowered to succeed.

We need to decentralize economic power and dramatically reduce the undue influence that big government and giant corporations have over our economic system.

We need to create an environment where almost anyone that has a good idea and that is willing to work hard can succeed.

But instead of focusing on real solutions like shutting down the Federal Reserve, converting to debt-free currency, eliminating the income tax, shutting down the IRS, massively reducing the size of government and getting rid of thousands upon thousands of unneeded regulations, the mainstream media and our politicians are going to continue to try to get Americans to blame one another for our problems.

The efforts to divide America are working, and hatred is growing to unprecedented levels in this country.

Eventually this will lead to mass rioting in our major cities and that will make our problems far worse.

Hatred and division are not going to bring us a better future.

They are only going to destroy us from within.

We don’t need hate.

What we need is more love and more solutions.

Unfortunately, our leaders are leading us down a very dark path, and we are heading for a future that is going to be a complete mess.

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