The Beginning Of The End
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27 Huge Red Flags For The U.S. Economy

Red FlagIf you believe that the U.S. economy is heading in the right direction, you really need to read this article.  As we look toward the second half of 2014, there are economic red flags all over the place.  Industrial production is down.  Home sales are way down.  Retail stores are closing at the fastest pace since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  U.S. household debt is up substantially, and in 20 percent of all U.S. families everyone is unemployed.  In so many ways, what we are witnessing right now is so similar to what we experienced during the build up to the last great financial crisis.  We are making so many of the very same mistakes that we made the last time, and yet our “leaders” seem completely oblivious to what is happening.  But the warning signs are very clear.  All you have to do is open your eyes and look at them.  The following are 27 huge red flags for the U.S. economy…

#1 Despite endless assurances from the Obama administration that we are in an “economic recovery”, the number one concern for U.S. voters is “Unemployment/Jobs” according to a recent Gallup survey.

#2 Historically, sales for construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar have been a pretty good indicator of where the global economy is heading next.  Unfortunately, sales were down 13 percent last month and have now experienced year over year declines for 17 months in a row.

#3 During the first quarter of 2014, profits at office supply giant Staples fell by 43.5 percent.

#4 Foot traffic at Wal-Mart stores fell by 1.4 percent during the first quarter of 2014.  Analysts seem puzzled as to why Wal-Mart is “underperforming“.  Perhaps it is because the U.S. middle class is being steadily destroyed and U.S. consumers are tapped out at this point.

#5 It is being projected that Sears will soon close hundreds more stores and will eventually go out of business altogether…

The company said this week that it may sell its 51% stake in Sears Canada, which operates nearly 20% of the company’s stores worldwide. It has quietly closed nearly 100 U.S. stores in the last year. Next week, it’s expected to announce dismal fiscal first quarter results and possibly yet more store closings.

“They have too many stores and they’re losing a lot of money, burning cash,” said John Kernan, an analyst with Cowen.
Kernan expects the company to close 500 of its 1,980 U.S. stores in a few years and, ultimately, to go out of business.

“The lights are going off at Sears and Kmart,” he said. “There are tumbleweeds blowing through the parking lots at Kmart. They’re basically completely irrelevant.”

The “retail apocalypse” just continues to roll on, but the mainstream media is treating this like it is not really a big deal.

#6 The labor force participation rate for Americans from the age of 25 to the age of 29 has fallen to an all-time record low.

#7 According to official government numbers, everyone is unemployed in 20 percent of all American families.

#8 As families struggle to pay their bills, many of them are increasingly turning to debt in order to make ends meet.  Earlier this month we learned that total U.S. household debt has increased for three quarters in a row.  And as I noted in one recent article, total consumer credit in the United States has increased by 22 percent over the past three years, and 56 percent of all Americans have “subprime credit” at this point.

#9 Interest rates on student loans are scheduled to increase substantially on July 1st

As of July 1, federal student loan rates will edge up. Rates overall will be up 0.8% compared to current rates.

Federal Stafford Loans for undergraduate students will be 4.66% — up from 3.86%. Federal Stafford Loans for graduate students will be 6.21% — up from 5.41%.

Federal Grad PLUS and Federal Parent PLUS Loans will be at 7.21% — up from 6.41%.

This is going to put even more pressure on the growing student loan debt bubble.

#10 U.S. industrial production fell by 0.6 percent in April.  This should not be happening if the economy truly was “recovering”.

#11 Manufacturing job openings in the United States have declined for four months in a row.

#12 Existing home sales have fallen for seven of the last eight months and seem to be repeating a pattern that we witnessed back in 2007 prior to the last financial crash.

#13 In the real estate bubble market of Phoenix, sales in April were down 12 percent year over year, and active inventory was up 49 percent year over year.  In other words, there are tons of homes on the market, but sales are going down.

#14 The homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

#15 Trading revenue at big banks all over the western world is way down

Late Friday, it was JPMorgan who said trading revenues will be down 20 percent this quarter. Now Barclays says trading revenues in the first three months were down 41 percent. The company cited “challenging trading conditions resulting in subdued client activity.” Like JPMorgan, Barclays also warned they were seeing no improvement in trading in the second quarter.

#16 Jan Loeys, JPMorgan’s head of global asset allocation, is warning that the Federal Reserve is creating a huge financial bubble which could “push us into a credit crisis“…

Where do we go from here? To this analyst, still very subdued economic growth, both at the US and global level, implies continued easy monetary policy. The risk is that bond yields rise no faster than the forwards. Financial overheating (asset inflation) proceeds much faster than economic overheating (CPI inflation). Before CPI inflation has a chance to emerge, and before monetary policy is truly above neutral, a financial bubble will have popped up somewhere and will have corrected, pushing the economy down. That is what has happened in the past 25 years. The behavior of central banks gives us no confidence that this time will be different: Central banks talk about financial instability, but appear to define this mostly in term of bank leverage. Each successive boom and bust is always in another place. A bubble can emerge without leverage. It is not possible to project exactly where this boom and bust cycle will take place as knowing where it will be would induce evasive actions that should prevent it from occurring. One possible ending, among many, is that ultra-easy rates having induced credit markets to grow much faster than equity markets, combines with reduced market making by banks (many of whom have become like brokers) to create a liquidity crisis when the Fed starts the first set of rate hikes. This could then be bad enough to close primary markets, and thus push us into a credit crisis.

#17 Peter Boockvar, the chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, is warning that the U.S. stock market could experience a 20 percent decline once quantitative easing completely ends.

#18 A lot of other big names are telling CNBC that they expect a significant stock market “correction” very soon as well…

A bevy of high-profile names have warned lately that the market is on the doorstep of a major move lower. From long-term market bulls such as Piper Jaffray to short-term traders such as Dennis Gartman, expectations are high that the major averages are poised for a big dip, with calls varying from 10 percent or so all the way up to 25 percent.

#19 The number of Americans enrolled in the Social Security disability program exceeds the entire population of the nation of Greece and has just hit another brand new record high.

#20 Poverty continues to grow all over the country, and right now there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.

#21 According to Pew Charitable Trusts, tax revenue in 26 U.S. states is still lower than it was back in 2008 even though tax rates have gone up in many areas since then.

#22 Barack Obama is doing his best to keep his promise to destroy the U.S. coal industry

The EPA is about to impose a new regulation that will reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants starting June 2 and will become permanent in 2015. The new regulation, according to Politico, is the “most dramatic anti-pollution regulation in a generation.” Because the new regulation will further cripple the coal industry, as coal-burning plants will be severely affected, American power will become more dependent on natural gas, solar and wind.

#23 Climatologists are now saying that the state of Texas is going through the worst period of drought that it has experienced in 500 years.

#24 It is being reported that “dozens of Texas communities” are less than 90 days away from being completely out of water.

#25 It is being projected that the drought in California will cost the agricultural industry 1.7 billion dollars and that approximately 14,500 agricultural workers will lose their jobs.

#26 Due in part to the drought, the price of meat rose at the fastest pace in more than 10 years last month.

#27 According to recent surveys, only about a quarter of all Americans believe that the country is heading in the right direction.

The Number Of Working Age Americans Without A Job Has Risen By 27 MILLION Since 2000

Arrow Going UpDid you know that there are nearly 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now?  And 20 percent of all families in the United States do not have a single member that is employed.  So how in the world can the government claim that the unemployment rate has “dropped” to “6.3 percent”?  Well, it all comes down to how you define who is “unemployed”.  For example, last month the government moved another 988,000 Americans into the “not in the labor force” category.  According to the government, at this moment there are 9.75 million Americans that are “unemployed” and there are 92.02 million Americans that are “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 101.77 million working age Americans that do not have a job.  Back in April 2000, only 5.48 million Americans were unemployed and only 69.27 million Americans were “not in the labor force” for a grand total of 74.75 million Americans without a job.  That means that the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 27 million since the year 2000.  Any way that you want to slice that, it is bad news.

Well, what about as a percentage of the population?

Has the percentage of working age Americans that have a job been increasing or decreasing?

As you can see from the chart posted below, the percentage of working age Americans with a job has been in a long-term downward trend.  As the year 2000 began, we were sitting at 64.6 percent.  By the time the great financial crisis of 2008 struck, we were hovering around 63 percent.  During the last recession, we fell dramatically to under 59 percent and we have stayed there ever since…

Employment Population Ratio April 2014

And the numbers behind this chart also show that employment in America did not increase last month.

In March, 58.9 percent of all working age Americans had a job.

In April, 58.9 percent of all working age Americans had a job.

Things are not getting worse (at least for the moment), but things are also definitely not getting better.

The month that Barack Obama entered the White House, we were in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and only 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.

Since only 58.9 percent of all working age Americans have a job now, that means that the employment situation in America is still significantly worse than it was the day Barack Obama took office.

So don’t let anyone fool you with talk of an “employment recovery”.  It simply is not happening.  The official unemployment rate bears so little relation to economic reality at this point that it has essentially become meaningless.

Look, how in the world can we have an “unemployment rate” of just “6.3 percent” when 20 percent of all American families do n0t have a single member that is working?

Here is how that 20 percent figure was arrived at

A family, as defined by the BLS, is a group of two or more people who live together and who are related by birth, adoption or marriage. In 2013, there were 80,445,000 families in the United States and in 16,127,000—or 20 percent–no one had a job.

So if one out of every five families is completely unemployed, then why is the official government unemployment rate not up at Great Depression era levels?

Could it be that the government is manipulating the numbers to make them look much better than they actually are?

Why don’t they just go ahead and get it over with?  They can just define every American that is not working as “not in the labor force” and then we can have “0.0 percent unemployment”.  Then we can all have a giant party and celebrate how wonderful the U.S. economy is.

And don’t be fooled by the “288,000 jobs” that were added to the U.S. economy last month.  For workers under the age of 55, the number of jobs actually dropped by a whopping 259,000.

If we were using honest numbers, the official unemployment rate would look a lot scarier.  John Williams of shadowstats.com has calculated that the unemployment rate should be about 23 percent.  I don’t think that is too far off.

Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in our economy continues to go down.  The House Ways and Means Committee says that seven out of every eight jobs that have been “added” to the economy under Barack Obama have been part-time jobs.  But you can’t raise a family or plan a career around a part-time job.  To be honest, it is very hard for a single person to even survive on a part-time wage in this economic environment.

As the quality of our jobs goes down, so do our incomes.  The median household income has declined for five years in a row, and the middle class is falling apart.

Without middle class incomes, you can’t have a middle class.  Considering what we have been watching happen, it should be no surprise that the homeownership rate in the United States has dropped to the lowest level in 19 years or that the number of Americans receiving money from the government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million.

For many more statistics like this, please see my previous article entitled “17 Facts To Show To Anyone That Believes That The U.S. Economy Is Just Fine“.

At a gut level, most Americans understand that things are much worse than they used to be.

The Pew Research Center recently asked people what “class” they consider themselves to be.  The results were shocking.

Back in 2008, only 25 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “lower middle class” or “poor”.

Earlier this year, an astounding 40 percent of all Americans chose one of those designations.

We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline, and no amount of propaganda is going to change that.

But based on the “happy numbers” being trumpeted by the mainstream media, the Federal Reserve is slowly bringing their quantitative easing program to an end.

When quantitative easing is finally totally cut off, we shall see how the financial markets and the U.S. economy perform without artificial life support.

Personally, I don’t think that it is going to be pretty.

Do Not Make Fun Of Those That Have Fallen Out Of The Middle Class – You Could Be Next

Frustrated - Photo by BlechhhyThere are millions of American families that once lived very comfortable middle class lifestyles that have lost it all.  When you are unemployed and you can’t find a decent job, it can crush your soul.  Every day you can see the disappointment or the disapproval in the eyes of your family and friends, and it can be really easy to want to give up completely.  And then there are always those that choose to actively vocalize their disdain for those that are down on their luck.  But telling people “to get a job” or shaming them for being on welfare isn’t going to solve anything in an economy where there simply are not enough jobs for everyone.  Only a small minority of welfare recipients are actually trying to abuse the system.  Most people just want to work hard and take care of their families.  Unfortunately, that is much harder to do than it was before the last financial crisis.

At this point, our economy has stabilized at a much lower level than it was at before.  For example, 32 million Americans were on food stamps when Barack Obama took office, and subsequently that number shot up to about 47 million.  Fortunately, that number has been relatively stable for the last couple of years, but there has been no recovery.  This can be seen in lots of other economic statistics as well.

If we were going to have an “economic recovery”, it should have happened by now.

Unfortunately, it has not materialized, and now the next downturn is coming.

Since I run a website called “The Economic Collapse”, a lot of people seem to assume that I actually want an economic collapse to happen.  But that is not the truth at all.  I love this country, and just like most other people I really enjoy life in modern America.  I wish that the party could go on forever.  But I know that it cannot.

And every day I hear from people that are deeply suffering in this economy.  Anyone that has a heart that hears of such suffering would want things to get better.  Why would anyone want to see even more pain?

But I know that more pain is coming.

In the years ahead, a tremendous amount of love and compassion are going to be needed.  When people lose their jobs, their entire lives can be turned upside down.  Just consider the case of one formerly middle class woman named Abby Henson

Last winter I ran into a friend pushing his two youngest children in a stroller. When I asked how he was doing, he told me he’d recently lost his job. I walked away thinking, “Thank God that’s not us.” Fast-forward seven months and now we’re the family people walk away from with a sigh of relief.

One day this summer, my husband came home early from work with the news he’d lost his job. Since then, we’ve gone through all the stages of grief, with a few additions of our own. I’ve gone into what I’ve dubbed “Mama Bear mode,” wanting to do everything with my husband and our two small children, maybe because I just don’t want to face anyone alone. “How are you doing?” is a hard question to answer in the rush of school pickup. So I keep my mate and cubs close, or we hibernate at home, trying to avoid scrutiny.

Sadly, this kind of thing has happened to millions of families.  Those that doubt this just need to look at the survey numbers.

Back in 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.

In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still consider themselves to be “middle class”.

This next story that I want to share with you is from a reader named Joe.  Please look past the lack of punctuation, and consider what he is saying.  This is a man that has had his heart broken…

im not sure whats worse. never having a career and family or losing them both. i know that when i got the honor of handing 20 years of hard work to the chinese it plunged me in to despair and a horrible spin. 3 years later and a college degree and ive lost my home and my family over it. and all i got was, you could have, you should have. so its all my fault that someone elses greed caused all this. by the way the corporate CEO that did this makes 7 million bucks a year. she caused 2 divorces. a dozen early forced retirements, countless career losses and multiple wrecked families. im lucky i still have my RV which is home now. i used to have a nice 4 bedroom house with all the middle class trimmings. now i consider myself lucky to have a job where i barely make the space rent and no hope of recovering my former career or my family. i had it all and lost it so i dont know whats worse having or never having it at all and pining for it. either way it hurts knowing that no one wants you after you fall apart youre just a hot potato. all i know is that im lost with no hope with a clean 30 year work history thats now moot. in retrospect i wish i had stayed in the saddle and kept riding my motorcycle till i was no more.

And it is not just older Americans that are suffering in this economy.

Many young people that worked incredibly hard through school and that did everything “right” now find the door to the middle class completely shut.  The following is testimony from a recent college graduate that is incredibly sad…

I’m a college graduate. I live at home. I am on food stamps. I graduated about two years ago and the only work I’ve been able to get is sign waving. Temp agencies are all so flooded with applicants they are almost useless. I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, filled out dozens of applications, and nothing ever happens. Everyone acts like it’s YOUR fault. That used to be hurtful, but now I’m past caring, because I realize what life holds for me: nothing. I will never have a family or career. I will never own a home or even live on my own again. I will never be able to have a social life again. I will never be financially independent, like I was for a brief period of time at an age younger than most because I worked so hard for it. And all of it was for this nothing. A lifetime of hard work, completely wasted. I wish I had just partied and screwed around my whole life – the outcome probably would have been better.

The despair that our young adults are feeling right now shows up very clearly in the survey numbers.

Back in 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.

In 2014, 49 percent of them do.

That is an astounding shift in just six years.

Anyone that believes that the U.S. economy is “just fine” is crazy.

When you lose everything, it can plunge you into a spiral of depression and desperation that can be incredibly difficult to break free from.

Some people get tempted to give up completely, but that is never a good answer.

I hope that some people will take hope from a comment that a reader named Paul left on one of my recent articles

Due to a lack of job security and all the bad economic news I have lapsed into a clinical depression. I have been susceptible to anxiety and depression in the past. However, I did not have to deal with a bout of depression for about 5 years. I am writing this as a wakeup call to other people who may be feeling what I am feeling right now. I am extremely angry about the rampant corruption, laziness, hubris, and ignorance that is permeating through society today. I have shifted between anger, apathy, and sadness. However, I have family that I must protect. One of my purposes in life is to give people hope. Also, below is a list of actions I took to combat my depression.

· Take up a new hobby. Dancing helped me.
· Take stock of how your life impacts others.
· Prepare for harder times ahead. This is extremely empowering.
· Engage in acts of kindness. I found a twenty dollar bill on the floor at a store. Instead of keeping it I gave it to lost and found at customer service. I also removed a sharp piece of wood from the middle of a residential street.
· I remember the saying “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” Feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness are transitory. If you have thoughts about taking your life please get help.
· Typing this has made me feel better.

I will continue to fight my depression. I am in a dark place right now. However, I am searching for the light.

Please pray for Paul and others just like him as they struggle with their pain.

The truth is that there is always hope.

If you are reading this and you are hurting, I want you to know that almost everyone hits a very deep low at some point.  But if you keep fighting, there is always a way for things to be turned around.

Personally, God took the broken pieces of my life and turned them into a beautiful thing, and He can do the same for you.

So never, ever, ever give up.

Yes, very challenging economic times are coming.

But our lives should not be defined by our material possessions anyway.

Personally, I am very glad to be alive during this time of human history.  When times are the darkest, that is when light is needed the most.  And times of great crisis also often bring great opportunity as well.

The years ahead are going to present an awesome opportunity to make a difference in this world.

Don’t miss out.

Vast Stretches Of Impoverished Appalachia Look Like They Have Been Through A War

West VirginiaIf you want to get an idea of where the rest of America is heading, just take a trip through the western half of West Virginia and the eastern half of Kentucky some time.  Once you leave the main highways, you will rapidly encounter poverty on a level that is absolutely staggering.  Overall, about 15 percent of the entire nation is under the poverty line, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty.  Most of the people would work if they could.  Over the past couple of decades, locals have witnessed businesses and industries leave the region at a steady pace.  When another factory or business shuts down, many of the unemployed do not even realize that their jobs have been shipped overseas.  Coal mining still produces jobs that pay a decent wage, but Barack Obama is doing his very best to kill off that entire industry.  After decades of decline, vast stretches of impoverished Appalachia look like they have been through a war.  Those living in the area know that things are not good, but they just try to do the best that they can with what they have.

In previous articles about areas of the country that are economically depressed, I have typically focused on large cities such as Detroit or Camden, New Jersey.  But the economic suffering that is taking place in rural communities in the heartland of America is just as tragic.  We just don’t hear about it as much.

Most of those that live in the heart of Appalachia are really good “salt of the earth” people that just want to work hard and do what is right for their families.  But after decades of increasing poverty, the entire region has been transformed into an economic nightmare that never seems to end.  The following is a description of what life is like in Appalachia today that comes from a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson

Thinking about the future here and its bleak prospects is not much fun at all, so instead of too much black-minded introspection you have the pills and the dope, the morning beers, the endless scratch-off lotto cards, healing meetings up on the hill, the federally funded ritual of trading cases of food-stamp Pepsi for packs of Kentucky’s Best cigarettes and good old hard currency, tall piles of gas-station nachos, the occasional blast of meth, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, petty crime, the draw, the recreational making and surgical unmaking of teenaged mothers, and death: Life expectancies are short — the typical man here dies well over a decade earlier than does a man in Fairfax County, Va. — and they are getting shorter, women’s life expectancy having declined by nearly 1.1 percent from 1987 to 2007.

In these kinds of conditions, people do whatever they have to do just to survive.  With so much poverty around, serving those on food stamps has become an important part of the local economy.  In fact, cases of soda purchased with food stamps have become a form of “alternative currency” in the region.  In his article, Williamson described how this works…

It works like this: Once a month, the debit-card accounts of those receiving what we still call food stamps are credited with a few hundred dollars — about $500 for a family of four, on average — which are immediately converted into a unit of exchange, in this case cases of soda. On the day when accounts are credited, local establishments accepting EBT cards — and all across the Big White Ghetto, “We Accept Food Stamps” is the new E pluribus unum – are swamped with locals using their public benefits to buy cases and cases — reports put the number at 30 to 40 cases for some buyers — of soda. Those cases of soda then either go on to another retailer, who buys them at 50 cents on the dollar, in effect laundering those $500 in monthly benefits into $250 in cash — a considerably worse rate than your typical organized-crime money launderer offers — or else they go into the local black-market economy, where they can be used as currency in such ventures as the dealing of unauthorized prescription painkillers — by “pillbillies,” as they are known at the sympathetic establishments in Florida that do so much business with Kentucky and West Virginia that the relevant interstate bus service is nicknamed the “OxyContin Express.” A woman who is intimately familiar with the local drug economy suggests that the exchange rate between sexual favors and cases of pop — some dealers will accept either — is about 1:1, meaning that the value of a woman in the local prescription-drug economy is about $12.99 at Walmart prices.

I would encourage everyone to read the rest of Williamson’s excellent article.  You can find the entire article right here.

In Appalachia, the abuse of alcohol, meth and other legal and illegal drugs is significantly higher than in the U.S. population as a whole.  In a desperate attempt to deal with the pain of their lives, many people living in the region are looking for anything that will allow them to “escape” for a little while.  The following is an excerpt from an excellent article by Chris Hedges which describes what life is like in the little town of Gary, West Virginia at this point…

Joe and I are sitting in the Tug River Health Clinic in Gary with a registered nurse who does not want her name used. The clinic handles federal and state black lung applications. It runs a program for those addicted to prescription pills. It also handles what in the local vernacular is known as “the crazy check” — payments obtained for mental illness from Medicaid or SSI — a vital source of income for those whose five years of welfare payments have run out. Doctors willing to diagnose a patient as mentally ill are important to economic survival.

“They come in and want to be diagnosed as soon as they can for the crazy check,” the nurse says. “They will insist to us they are crazy. They will tell us, ‘I know I’m not right.’ People here are very resigned. They will avoid working by being diagnosed as crazy.”

The reliance on government checks, and a vast array of painkillers and opiates, has turned towns like Gary into modern opium dens. The painkillers OxyContin, fentanyl — 80 times stronger than morphine — Lortab, as well as a wide variety of anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, are widely abused. Many top off their daily cocktail of painkillers at night with sleeping pills and muscle relaxants. And for fun, addicts, especially the young, hold “pharm parties,” in which they combine their pills in a bowl, scoop out handfuls of medication, swallow them, and wait to feel the result.

Of course this kind of thing is not just happening in the heart of Appalachia.  All over the country there are rural communities that are economically depressed.  In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, economic activity in about half of the counties in the entire nation is still below pre-recession levels…

About half of the nation’s 3,069 county economies are still short of their prerecession economic output, reflecting the uneven economic recovery, according to a new report from the National Association of Counties.

So what are our “leaders” doing to fix this?

Well, they plan to ship millions more of our good jobs overseas.

Unfortunately, I am not kidding.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are introducing “fast track” trade promotion authority legislation that will pave the way for rapid approval of the secret trade treaty that Barack Obama has been negotiating.  The following is how I described this insidious treaty in a previous article

Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it?  The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement.  This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade.  Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more.  It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system.

Once again, our politicians are betraying the American people and millions of jobs will be lost as a result.

Not that the economy needs another reason to go downhill.  The truth is that our economic foundations have already been rotting away for quite some time.

But now the ongoing economic collapse seems to be picking up steam again.  For example, the Baltic Dry Index (a very important indicator of global economic activity) is collapsing at a rate not seen since the great financial crash of 2008

Despite ‘blaming’ the drop in the cost of dry bulk shipping on Colombian coal restrictions, it seems increasingly clear that the 40% collapse in the Baltic Dry Index since the start of the year is more than just that. While this is the worst start to a year in over 30 years, the scale of this meltdown is only matched by the total devastation that occurred in Q3 2008. Of course, the mainstream media will continue to ignore this dour index until it decides to rise once again, but for now, 9 days in a row of plunging prices is yet another canary in the global trade coalmine and suggests what inventory stacking that occurred in Q3/4 2013 is anything but sustained.

Soon economic conditions will get even worse for Appalachia and for the rest of the country.  The consequences of decades of very foolish decisions are rapidly catching up with us, and millions upon millions of Americans are going to experience immense economic pain during the years to come.

So what are things like in your area of the country right now?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

West Virginia

The Number Of Working Age Americans Without A Job Has Risen By Almost 10 Million Under Obama

Obama SmilingThat headline is not a misprint.  The number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by nearly 10 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House.  In January 2009, the number of “officially unemployed” workers plus the number of Americans “not in the labor force” was sitting at a grand total of 92.6 million.  Today, that number has risen to 102.2 million.  That means that the number of working age Americans that are not working has grown by close to 10 million since Barack Obama first took office.  So why does the “official unemployment rate” keep going down?  Well, it is because the federal government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed workers have “left the labor force” over the past few years and do not want to work anymore.  The government says that another 347,000 workers “left the labor force” in December.  That is nearly five times larger than the 74,000 jobs that were “created” by the U.S. economy last month.  And it is important to note that more than half of those jobs were temporary jobs, and it takes well over 100,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth each month.  So the unemployment rate should not have gone down.  If anything, it should have gone up.

In fact, if the federal government was using an honest labor force participation rate, the official unemployment rate would be far higher than it is right now.  Instead of 6.7 percent, it would be 11.5 percent, and it has stayed at about that level since the end of the last recession.

But “6.7 percent” makes Obama look so much better than “11.5 percent”, don’t you think?

The labor force participation rate is now at a 35 year low, and the only way that the federal government has been able to get the “unemployment rate” to go down is by removing hundreds of thousands of Americans out of the labor force every month.

Why don’t they just get it over with and announce that they have decided that all workers immediately leave the labor force the moment that they lose their jobs?  That way we could have an unemployment rate of “0.0 percent” and Obama could be hailed as a great economic savior.

Of course the truth is that the employment crisis in the United States is about as bad now as it was during the depths of the last recession.

If you want a much more accurate reading of the employment picture in America, just look at the employment-population ratio.  The percentage of working age Americans that actually have a job continues to stagnate at an extremely low level.  In fact, the percentage of working age Americans that are employed has stayed between 58.2 percent and 58.8 percent for 52 months in a row…

Employment-Population Ratio 2014

Does that look like an “employment recovery” to you?

Because no matter how hard I squint my eyes, I just can’t see it.

The percentage of Americans that actually have jobs should have bounced back at least a little bit by now.

But it has not happened.

And guess what?  Most people don’t know this, but the U.S. economy actually created fewer jobs in 2013 than it did in 2012.  So the momentum of job creation is actually going the wrong way.

No matter how rosy the mainstream media makes things out to be, the reality on the ground tells an entirely different story.

For example, just check out the desperation that was displayed on the streets of New York City last week…

The line wrapped nearly around an entire city block on Friday as approximately 1,500 people waited in Queens for a chance to apply for a coveted union job as painters or blasters on bridges and steel structures.

The first few people on line had been there since 1 p.m. on Tuesday when the temperature in New York City was in the single digits.

The job that those desperate workers wanted to apply for only pays $17.20 an hour.

Of course that is far from an isolated incident.  Last week, I wrote about how 1,600 workers recently applied for just 36 jobs at an ice cream plant in Maryland.

We would not be witnessing scenes like these if the unemployment rate in America was really just 6.7 percent.

An article by Phoenix Capital Research does a good job of summarizing how useless the official government numbers have become…

Since 2009, we’ve been told that things have improved. The fact of the matter is that the improvement has been largely due to accounting tricks rather than any real change in reality.

Sure you can make unemployment look better by not counting people, you can claim the economy is growing by ignoring inflation, you can argue that inflation is low because you don’t count food or energy, but the reality is that all of these arguments are grade “A” BS.

We are now five years into the “recovery.” The single and I mean SINGLE accomplishment from spending over $3 trillion has been the stock market going higher. This is a complete and total failure. Based on the business cycle alone, the economy should be roaring.

What does it say that we’ve spent this much money and accomplished so little?

The word is FAILURE.

The media is lying about the economy. They have been for years. Even the BLS now admits that its methodologies are either inefficient (read: DON’T work) or outright wrong.

The cold, hard reality of the matter is that there has not been an economic recovery in this nation.

Anyone that tries to tell you that is lying to you.

And now the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.

The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve has been recklessly printing up trillions of dollars.  The long-term damage that they have done to our economy is incalculable.  But despite all of those extraordinary “stimulus” measures, the percentage of Americans that are actually working has not budged.

If we were going to have a recovery, it would have happened by this point.  In fact, this is all the “recovery” that we are going to experience.

From here on out, this is about as good as things are going to get.  As bad as you may think things are now, the truth is that this is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.

I hope that you are getting prepared.

Would You Date An Unemployed Man? – 75 Percent Of Women Would Not

Would You Date An Unemployed Man?If you are a man living in America today, to a large degree your value to society is determined by how much money you make.  It should not be that way, but that is how our society works.  And if you do not have a job at all and you cannot take care of your own family, then almost everyone looks down on you even if it is not your fault.  Once you are unemployed, it becomes the number one defining factor in your life.  Yes, there are a few people that may look at you in the same way, but in the eyes of most you will now be less of a man.  Sadly, this is particularly true when it comes to romantic relationships.  Unemployed men tend to have unhappier marriages, they tend to divorce more frequently, and as you will see below approximately 75 percent of all American women do not have any interest in dating unemployed men.  Unfortunately for American men, the decline of the U.S. economy in recent years has had a disproportionate impact on them.  The past five years have been the worst years for employment for American men in the post-World War II era, and things are only going to get worse from here.

Yes, unemployed women go through similar things.  I do not mean to downplay the economic suffering of unemployed women at all.  In fact, I write about it quite frequently.

Today, however, I want to focus on how the steadily declining U.S. economy is affecting men.  If you are a single man and you are unemployed, that automatically means that most single women will not be interested in you at all.  At least that is what one very shocking survey discovered…

Of the 925 single women surveyed, 75 percent said they’d have a problem with dating someone without a job. Only 4 percent of respondents asked whether they would go out with an unemployed man answered “of course.”

“Not having a job will definitely make it harder for men to date someone they don’t already know,” Irene LaCota, a spokesperson for It’s Just Lunch, said in a press release. “This is the rare area, compared to other topics we’ve done surveys on, where women’s old-fashioned beliefs about sex roles seem to apply.”

So what would happen if things were reversed and that same question was asked to men?

Well, it turns out that there is a big difference.

When men were asked that exact same question, the results were absolutely startling

On the other hand, the prospect of dating an unemployed woman was not a problem for nearly two-thirds of men. In fact, 19 percent of men said they had no reservations and 46 percent of men said they were positive they would date an unemployed woman.

Perhaps traditional gender roles are not quite as dead as many people believe that they are.

And as I mentioned earlier, the declining economy is hitting men even harder than it is hitting women.  Yes, millions upon millions of women are deeply suffering in this economy.  There is no doubt about that.  But men are actually having an even more difficult time than women are.

The following are 12 signs that the decline of the U.S. economy is having a disproportionate impact on men…

#1 The labor force participation rate for men is now at an all-time low…

Men - Labor Force Participation Rate

#2 During the last recession, men lost twice as many jobs as women did.  All of the jobs that women in the United States lost during the last recession have been regained, but only about 70 percent of the jobs that men lost during the last recession have been regained.  Meanwhile, the size of the overall population continues to grow rapidly.

#3 The inactivity rate for men has risen even higher since the end of the last recession and is now hovering near an all-time record high…

Inactivity Rate Men

#4 Since 2010, about a million construction workers have either been forced to switch industries or have disappeared from the labor force entirely.  This has had a disproportionate impact on men.

#5 Back in the 1950s, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Just before the last recession, about 70 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, only 64 percent of all men in the United States have jobs…

Employment-Population Ratio Men

#6 Back in the 1980s, more than 20 percent of the jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs.  Today, only about 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.  This has had a disproportionate impact on men.

#7 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. economy loses 9,000 jobs for every 1 billion dollars of goods that are imported.  A disproportionate percentage of those job losses tend to come from male-dominated industries such as manufacturing.  Since 1975, the United States has run a total trade deficit with the rest of the world of more than 8 trillion dollars, and right now there are more than 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job.

#8 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.

#9 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the “real entry-level hourly wage for men who recently graduated from high school” has declined from $15.64 in 1979 to $11.68 today.

#10 Thanks to Obama administration policies which are systematically killing off small businesses in the United States, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at an all-time low today.  This has had a disproportionate impact on men.

#11 According to CNN, American men in the 25 to 34-year-old age bracket are nearly twice as likely to live with their parents as women the same age are.

#12 According to Time Magazine, unemployed men are significantly more likely to get divorced than employed men are.

When a man cannot take care of his own family, it can be absolutely soul crushing.  Though many would like to deny this, the truth is that men are still considered to be the primary breadwinners in society today.  When a man finds that he cannot provide what his family needs no matter how hard he tries, it can be really easy to descend into a spiral of despair, depression and self-pity.

Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for everyone anymore and it never will again.  Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline at a staggering pace.

What all of this means is that the number of Americans living in poverty is going to continue to grow, and there will be lots more men that feel worthless because they can’t provide for their families.

The following is one example of a single dad that is forced to turn to the government for assistance because he cannot provide for his children on his own

It means Lyman Curtis, single dad of five kids, will only be able to reliably heat his home in Dexter, Maine, for the first half of this winter, maybe through February.

After that, Curtis will drive to the local gas station to buy kerosene oil in 5-gallon increments — all he can afford to buy at one time.

“I know a lot of people who do it that way, because there’s just not enough money to heat your home and pay for groceries in your everyday life,” said Curtis, 38, who is the primary caregiver for his kids and relies on disability benefits and food stamps to survive.

Nobody should ever look down on someone like Lyman Curtis.  He is doing the best that he can.

At this point our economy is kind of like a very twisted game of musical chairs.  If your family is doing well at the moment, you should not be too complacent because the next time the music stops you might be the one that loses a job.

In recent years, millions upon millions of Americans have lost good jobs, and in most cases it was due to forces beyond their control.

And as the economy continues to deteriorate, Americans are going to become even more angry and even more frustrated.  In fact, one recent survey found that 60 percent of all Americans “report feeling angry or irritable“.

But we have not even reached the next major wave of the economic collapse yet.

How “angry” and “irritable” will people feel once millions more Americans lose their jobs?

That is something to think about.

So what do you think about all of this?

What do you think about the fact that most women would not even consider dating an unemployed man?

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

10 Facts About The Growing Unemployment Crisis In America That Will Blow Your Mind

UnemploymentDid you know that there are more than 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job?  Yes, I know that number sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true.  Right now, there are more than 11 million Americans that are considered to be “officially unemployed”, and there are more than 91 million Americans that are not employed and that are considered to be “not in the labor force”.  When you add those two numbers together, the total is more than 102 million.  Overall, the number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by about 27 million since the year 2000.  But aren’t things getting better?  After all, the mainstream media is full of headlines about how “good” the jobs numbers for October were.  Sadly, the truth is that the mainstream media is not being straight with the American people.  As you will see below, we are in the midst of a long-term unemployment crisis in America, and things got even worse last month.

In this day and age, it is absolutely imperative that people start thinking for themselves.  Just because the media tells you that something is true does not mean that it actually is.  If unemployment was actually going down, the percentage of the working age population that has a job should actually be going up.  As you are about to see, that is simply not the case.  The following are 10 facts about the growing unemployment crisis in America that will blow your mind…

#1 The percentage of working age Americans with a job fell to 58.3 percent in October.  The lowest that number has been at any point since the year 2000 is 58.2 percent.  In other words, there has been absolutely no “jobs recovery”.  During the last recession, the civilian employment-population ratio dropped from about 63 percent to below 59 percent and it has stayed there for 50 months in a row.  Will the percentage of working age Americans with a job soon drop below the 58 percent mark?…

Employment-Population Ratio November 2013

#2 The U.S. economy lost 623,000 full-time jobs last month.  But we are being told to believe that the economy is actually getting “better”.

#3 The number of American women with a job fell by 357,000 during the month of October.

#4 The average duration of unemployment in October 2013 was nearly three times as long as it was in October 2000.

#5 The number of Americans “not in the labor force” increased by an astounding 932,000 during October.  In other words, the Obama administration would have us believe that nearly a million people “disappeared” from the U.S. labor force in a single month.

#6 The number of Americans “not in the labor force” has grown by more than 11 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House.

#7 In October, the U.S. labor force participation rate fell from 63.2 percent to 62.8 percent.  It is now the lowest that it has been since 1978.  Below is a chart which shows how the labor force participation rate has been steadily declining since the year 2000.  How can the economy be “healthy” if the percentage of Americans that are participating in the labor force is continually declining?…

Labor Force Participation Rate

#8 If the labor force participation rate was still at the same level it was at when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the official unemployment rate would be about 11 percent right now.

#9 Even if you are working, that does not mean that you are able to take care of yourself and your family without any help.  In fact, approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#10 In January 2000, there were 75 million working age Americans that did not have a job.  Today, there are 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job.

So what are our politicians doing to fix this?

Shouldn’t they be working night and day to solve this crisis?

After all, Barack Obama once made the following promise to the American people…

“But I want you all to know, I will not rest until anybody who’s looking for a job can find one — and I’m not talking about just any job, but good jobs that give every American decent wages and decent benefits and a fair shot at the American Dream.”

Unfortunately, things have not improved since Obama made that promise, but he has found the time to play 150 rounds of golf since he has been president.

Meanwhile, because there aren’t enough jobs, the number of Americans living in poverty continues to grow.

As I wrote about the other day, according to new numbers that were just released an all-time high 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty.

And right now 1.2 million public school students in the United States are homeless.  For many more statistics like this, please see my previous article entitled “29 Incredible Facts Which Prove That Poverty In America Is Absolutely Exploding“.

The only thing that most Americans have to offer in the marketplace is their labor.  If they can’t find a job, they don’t have any other way to take care of themselves and their families.

The future of the middle class in America depends upon the creation of good jobs.  It really doesn’t matter how far the quantitative easing that the Federal Reserve has been doing pumps up the current stock market bubble.  The American people were told that “economic stimulus” was the reason for doing all of this reckless money printing, but the percentage of working age Americans with a job is now actually lower than it was four years ago.  Quantitative easing has been a complete and total failure in the job creation department, and it is doing a tremendous amount of long-term damage to our financial system.

The really frightening thing is that the Federal Reserve and the federal government have supposedly been doing all they can to try to “create jobs” and they have utterly failed.  In fact, this is the first time in the post-World War II era that we have not seen an employment recovery following a recession.

And now the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.  What that hits us, millions more Americans will lose their jobs.

So the truth is that this is just the beginning of the unemployment crisis in America.

Yes, things are bad now, but soon they will get much worse.

Why Does Our Society Look Down On Unemployed Men So Much?

If you are unemployed for an extended period of time, people are going to look at you differently.  Unfortunately, this is especially true if you are a man.  In our society, men are primarily defined by “what they do”.  If you have been unemployed for a long period of time, that can make social interactions even more awkward than normal.  Most people will instantly become more uncomfortable around you when they find out that you are unemployed.  Many will look at you with pity, and others will actually look at you with disdain.  Women will not want to date you, and if you are in a relationship unemployment will put a tremendous amount of strain on it.  Once you “don’t have a job”, you will not get the same level of respect from former co-workers, friends, members of your own family and possibly even your own wife.  So why does our society look down on unemployed men so much?  Well, it is generally expected that men are supposed to be the “breadwinners” for their families.  If a woman stays home with the kids nobody has any problems with that, but if men do the same thing it tends to raise eyebrows.  But there is a big problem.  Our economy is not producing enough jobs for everyone.  In fact, there are millions upon millions more workers than there are jobs.  It would be great if this was just a temporary situation, but as I have written about previously, there will never be enough jobs in America ever again.  So there will continually be millions upon millions of men that are looked down upon by society because they can’t get jobs, and as a result we are going to have millions upon millions of men that are constantly battling against soul-crushing despair.

It can be really hard to “feel like a man” when you aren’t making any money.

And most women simply are not interested in becoming romantically involved with an unemployed man.  Just check out what one recent survey found….

Of the 925 single women surveyed, 75 percent said they’d have a problem with dating someone without a job. Only 4 percent of respondents asked whether they would go out with an unemployed man answered “of course.”

“Not having a job will definitely make it harder for men to date someone they don’t already know,” Irene LaCota, a spokesperson for It’s Just Lunch, said in a press release. “This is the rare area, compared to other topics we’ve done surveys on, where women’s old-fashioned beliefs about sex roles seem to apply.”

Those are some pretty overwhelming numbers.

So is it the same way when the roles are reversed?

Not even close.

When men were asked the same question, the difference was absolutely shocking….

On the other hand, the prospect of dating an unemployed woman was not a problem for nearly two-thirds of men. In fact, 19 percent of men said they had no reservations and 46 percent of men said they were positive they would date an unemployed woman.

Admittedly, men are often thinking about other things when they are evaluating whether they want to date a women or not.  Yes, there are some men these days that are concerned about how much money a woman makes, but the truth is that men tend to be much less concerned about income levels than women are.

In fact, a UK study that was released last year discovered that British women are even more concerned about the education and income of a potential mate than they were back in the 1940s.

So if you are unemployed you are probably not going to find much success in the romance department either.

If you are married, being unemployed is likely to put a huge strain on your marriage.  The following is a short excerpt from a recent Business Insider article entitled “TRUE CONFESSION: I’m Sick Of My Unemployed Husband“….

I can’t even remember when my husband stopped working.

And frankly, I don’t have time to think about it, between my full-time job and my fledgling business, volunteering at an after-school program to help teenagers prepare for the professional world and mothering two children.

But when I do think about it–when I think about all the times I come home to see evidence of his entire day’s activities cluttering the coffee table, or when I have to take our shared car to work and strand him at home because he doesn’t feel like getting up to drive me–I’m angry.

If a husband is unemployed for an extended period of time, there is a very good chance that the wife is going to start feeling very resentful.

If things get bad enough, many women will pull the plug on their marriages and will get rid of their “unproductive” husbands.

Last year, Time Magazine reported on a study that indicated that unemployed men were significantly more likely to get divorced than employed men were.

My goal in writing this is not to “bash women”.  I am just pointing out how hard things are for unemployed men in our society.  Many wives (and their extended families) simply do not understand that our economy has fundamentally changed.  In the old days just about any hard working man that wanted a job could go out and get one.  That is most definitely NOT the case today.

Hopefully we can get more women to understand this.  I know that it can be hard to be patient when your husband is unemployed for month after month after month.

But at a time when husbands need their support the most, many wives withdraw emotionally and become very angry.

For example, how many women have you ever heard declare how proud they are of their unemployed husbands?

Of course there are definitely situations where these roles are reversed and employed husbands are badgering their unemployed wives about getting a job, but in general our society tends to have a greater degree of tolerance for unemployed women than it does for unemployed men.

Sadly, most people simply do not understand how dramatically things have changed in our economy.

The following chart shows the stunning decline in the percentage of working age men with a job over the past 60 years….

Back in the 1950s, there were times when nearly 85 percent of all working age men had jobs.

We will never get back to anything close to that ever again.

Prior to the last recession, about 70 percent of all working age men were employed.

Since the end of the recession, that number has not gotten back to 65 percent at any point.

That means somewhere around 5 percent of all working age American men have been displaced from the workforce permanently.

The mainstream media would have us believe that we are experiencing an “economic recovery” but that is a massive lie.  The real unemployment numbers are much worse than we have been told.

If you take a look at all working age Americans (men and women), there are actually more than 100 million of them that do not have jobs right now.

I know that statistic can be hard to believe.  I had a hard time believing it at first.  But it is actually true.

Meanwhile, the incomes of those who are working continue to fall.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has fallen for four years in a row.

But this is not a trend that just started recently.  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.

We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline and it is time for all of us to admit how bad things have really gotten.

So what are all of the men who are not working doing these days?

Well, there are some that have chosen to stay at home with the kids.  In a previous article, I discussed how the number of “stay at home dads” has doubled over the past decade.

But the overall percentage of “Mr. Moms” is still very, very low according to Fox News….

There were only about 81,000 Mr. Moms in 2001, or about 1.6 percent of all stay-at-home parents. By last year, the number had climbed to 176,000, or 3.4 percent of stay-at-home parents, according to U.S. Census data.

The vast majority of working age men still want to work outside of the home and earn a living for their families.

Unfortunately, most families need more than one income to make it these days.  In fact, in many cases both parents are working multiple jobs in an attempt to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, the number of good jobs continues to decline and the middle class in America continues to shrink.

This is hitting our young people that are just starting out particularly hard.  For example, during 2011 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.

And as I have written about previously, this is resulting in huge numbers of our young people moving back home with Mom and Dad.

This is particularly true when it comes to young men.  According to CNN, American men in the 25 to 34 age bracket are nearly twice as likely to live with their parents as women the same age are….

The number of adult children who live with their parents, especially young males, has soared since the economy started heading south. Among males age 25 to 34, 19% live with their parents today, a 5 percentage point increase from 2005, according to Census data released Thursday. Meanwhile, 10% of women in that age group live at home, up from 8% six years ago.

How are our young men going to be able to get married and start families if they can’t find jobs and they are living in our basements?

Sadly, things are really hard for everyone right now.  Since June 2009, we have supposedly been in “the Obama recovery”, but median household income in America has fallen during that time period by $3040.

People keep waiting for things to “get better”, but it just isn’t happening.  This was beautifully illustrated the other night during a Saturday Night Live skit that had “Barack Obama” speaking in front of a rally of unemployed and underemployed workers.  You can find video of that skit right here.

There are millions upon millions of men (and women) all over America that are ready and willing to go back to work.

Sadly, there will never be enough jobs for all of them ever again, and that is not going to change no matter who wins the election.

In fact, when the next wave of the economic collapse hits the United States it is likely that unemployment is going to get a whole lot worse.

What will our society look like when that happens?

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