The Beginning Of The End
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21 Ways To End The Phrase ‘Americans Are So Broke…’

Coins - Public DomainDid you know that 77 million Americans have unpaid debts that are “in collections” and that Congress is actually thinking about letting post offices offer payday loans?  We live in a country where almost everyone is drowning in debt and where most people are either flat broke or very close to flat broke.  Years ago, “your Mama is so broke” jokes were all the rage, and at the rate we are going they could make a big comeback.  Some of my favorites were “your Mama is so broke she went to McDonald’s and put a milkshake on layaway” and “your Mama is so broke your family ate cereal with a fork to save milk”.  Unfortunately, the facts that I am about to share with you are not funny at all.  In fact, they are quite sobering.  Yes, things are going fairly well for the elitists that live in the good areas of New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco right now, but most of the country is deeply struggling as our economic fundamentals continue to crumble.  Please share these numbers with as many people as you can, because we need people to understand that there has not been an “economic recovery” for most of America.  In fact, in many ways things just continue to get even worse.  The following are 21 ways to end the phrase “Americans are so broke”…

1. Americans are so broke that about a third of them have debt collectors on their heels.  One recent study discovered that more than one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.  That is a total of 77 million people.  In other words, the debt collection business in America is absolutely booming.

2. Americans are so broke that Congress is now actually considering allowing post offices to provide payday loans and check cashing services.

3. Americans are so broke that they are keeping their vehicles longer than ever.  The average age of vehicles on America’s roads recently set a new all-time high of 11.4 years.

4. Americans are so broke that car dealers are having to go to extreme lengths to get new customers.  Last year, one out of every four auto loans in the United States was made to someone with subprime credit.

5. Americans are so broke that 52 percent of them cannot even afford the homes that they are living in right now.

6. Americans are so broke that they are falling farther behind on their student loans than ever.  The total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. has now reached a whopping 1.2 trillion dollars, and approximately seven million Americans are in default on their student loans at this point.

7. Young Americans are so broke that half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.

8. Young Americans are so broke that only 36 percent of American adults under the age of 35 currently own a home.  That is the lowest level that has ever been recorded.

9. Americans are so broke that many of them can’t even afford to shop at Wal-Mart and dollar stores anymore

Discount stores are slowly dying.

Yesterday, Dollar Tree announced it would buy Family Dollar, a chain that is in the process of closing hundreds of stores and firing workers.

Other discount stores have been struggling as well, writes Heidi Moore at The Guardian. Fashion discounter Loehmann’s filed for bankruptcy, while Wal-Mart’s sales have declined for the past five quarters.

“There’s just not enough money deployed by American families to keep all the discount chains in business,” Moore writes.

10. Americans are so broke that they are running up record levels of debt.  Overall, U.S. households are 11.68 trillion dollars in debt right now.

11. Americans are so broke that the wealth of the “typical American household” has fallen by 36 percent over the past decade.

12. Americans are so broke that one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

13. Americans are so broke that more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.

14. Americans are so broke that there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity.

15. Americans are so broke that the number of people on food stamps has increased by about 14 million while Obama has been in the White House.  Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

16. Americans are so broke that the U.S. government has had to spend an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

17. Americans are so broke that more than 20 percent of all children in the U.S. are living in poverty.

18. Americans are so broke that we have a record number of kids sleeping in the streets.  In fact, we have more than a million public school children that are homeless at this point.

19. Americans are so broke that 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

20. Americans are so broke that 26 percent of Americans have absolutely no emergency savings whatsoever.

21. Americans are so broke that approximately two-thirds of all Americans do not have enough money saved up to cover six months of expenses if an emergency arose.

If things are this bad now, during the so-called “economic recovery”, how bad will things get during the next major economic downturn?

Unfortunately, most Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security.  The financial crisis of 2008 seems like ancient history to most of them now, and most people appear to believe that our leaders have “fixed” whatever was wrong the last time.

Of course that is not the case at all.  In fact, our long-term problems have just continued to grow since then.

The truth is that what we are experiencing right now is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy.  When the next crisis arrives, all of the numbers in the list above are going to rapidly get a lot worse.

So enjoy the rest of this “bubble” while you still can.  It certainly will not last for too much longer.

Has The Next Recession Already Begun For America’s Middle Class?

RecessionHas the next major economic downturn already started?  The way that you would answer that question would probably depend on where you live.  If you live in New York City, or the suburbs of Washington D.C., or you work for one of the big tech firms in the San Francisco area, you would probably respond to such a question by saying of course not.  In those areas, the economy is doing great and prices for high end homes are still booming.  But in most of the rest of the nation, evidence continues to mount that the next recession has already begun for the poor and the middle class.  As you will read about below, major retailers had an absolutely dreadful start to 2014 and home sales are declining just as they did back in 2007 before the last financial crisis.  Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to lose more good jobs and 20 percent of all U.S. families do not have a single member that is employed at this point.  2014 is turning out to be eerily similar to 2007 in so many ways, but most people are not paying attention.

During the first quarter of 2014, earnings by major U.S. retailers missed estimates by the biggest margin in 13 years.  The “retail apocalypse” continues to escalate, and the biggest reason for this is the fact that middle class consumers in the U.S. are tapped out.  And this is not just happening to a few retailers – this is something that is happening across the board.  The following is a summary of how major U.S. retailers performed in the first quarter of 2014 that was put together by Jim Quinn

Wal-Mart Profit Plunges By $220 Million as US Store Traffic Declines by 1.4%

Target Profit Plunges by $80 Million, 16% Lower Than 2013, as Store Traffic Declines by 2.3%

Sears Loses $358 Million in First Quarter as Comparable Store Sales at Sears Plunge by 7.8% and Sales at Kmart Plunge by 5.1%

JC Penney Thrilled With Loss of Only $358 Million For the Quarter

Kohl’s Operating Income Plunges by 17% as Comparable Sales Decline by 3.4%

Costco Profit Declines by $84 Million as Comp Store Sales Only Increase by 2%

Staples Profit Plunges by 44% as Sales Collapse and Closing Hundreds of Stores

Gap Income Drops 22% as Same Store Sales Fall

American Eagle Profits Tumble 86%, Will Close 150 Stores

Aeropostale Losses $77 Million as Sales Collapse by 12%

Best Buy Sales Decline by $300 Million as Margins Decline and Comparable Store Sales Decline by 1.3%

Macy’s Profit Flat as Comparable Store Sales decline by 1.4%

Dollar General Profit Plummets by 40% as Comp Store Sales Decline by 3.8%

Urban Outfitters Earnings Collapse by 20% as Sales Stagnate

McDonalds Earnings Fall by $66 Million as US Comp Sales Fall by 1.7%

Darden Profit Collapses by 30% as Same Restaurant Sales Plunge by 5.6% and Company Selling Red Lobster

TJX Misses Earnings Expectations as Sales & Earnings Flat

Dick’s Misses Earnings Expectations as Golf Store Sales Plummet

Home Depot Misses Earnings Expectations as Customer Traffic Only Rises by 2.2%

Lowes Misses Earnings Expectations as Customer Traffic was Flat

That is quite a startling list.

But plummeting retail sales are not the only sign that the U.S. middle class is really struggling right now.  Home sales have also been extremely disappointing for quite a few months.  This is how Wolf Richter described what we have been witnessing…

This is precisely what shouldn’t have happened but was destined to happen: Sales of existing homes have gotten clobbered since last fall. At first, the Fiscal Cliff and the threat of a US government default – remember those zany times? – were blamed, then polar vortices were blamed even while home sales in California, where the weather had been gorgeous all winter, plunged more than elsewhere.

Then it spread to new-home sales: in April, they dropped 4.7% from a year ago, after March’s year-over-year decline of 4.9%, and February’s 2.8%. Not a good sign: the April hit was worse than February’s, when it was the weather’s fault. Yet April should be the busiest month of the year (excellent brief video by Lee Adler on this debacle).

We have already seen that in some markets, in California for example, sales have collapsed at the lower two-thirds of the price range, with the upper third thriving. People who earn median incomes are increasingly priced out of the market, and many potential first-time buyers have little chance of getting in. In San Diego, for example, sales of homes below $200,000 plunged 46% while the upper end is doing just fine.

As Richter noted, sales of upper end homes are still doing fine in many areas.

But how long will that be able to continue if things continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class?  Traditionally, the U.S. economy has greatly depended upon consumer spending by the middle class.  If that continues to dry up, how long can we avoid falling into a recession?  For even more numbers that seem to indicate economic trouble for the middle class, please see my previous article entitled “27 Huge Red Flags For The U.S. Economy“.

Other analysts are expressing similar concerns.  For example, check out what John Williams of shadowstats.com had to say during one recent interview

We’re turning down anew. The first quarter should revise into negative territory… and I believe the second quarter will report negative as well.

That will all happen by July 30 when you have the annual revisions to the GDP. In reality the economy is much weaker than that. Economic growth is overstated with the GDP because they understate inflation, which is used in deflating the number…

What we’re seeing now is just… we’ve been barely stagnant and bottomed out… but we’re turning down again.

The reason for this is that the consumer is strapped… doesn’t have the liquidity to fuel the growth in consumption.

Income… the median household income, net of inflation, is as low as it was in 1967. The average guy is not staying ahead of inflation…

This has been a problem now for decades… You were able to buy consumption from the future by borrowing more money, expanding your debt. Greenspan saw the problem was income, so he encouraged debt expansion.

That all blew apart in 2007/2008… the income problems have continued, but now you don’t have the ability to borrow money the way you used to. Without that and the income problems remaining, there’s no way that consumption can grow faster than inflation if income isn’t.

As a result – personal consumption is more than two thirds of the economy – there’s no way you can have positive sustainable growth in the U.S. economy without the consumer being healthy.

The key to the health of the middle class is having plenty of good jobs.

But the U.S. economy continues to lose more good paying jobs.

For example, Hewlett-Packard has just announced that it plans to eliminate 16,000 more jobs in addition to the 34,000 job cuts that have already been announced.

Today, there are 27 million more working age Americans that do not have a job than there were in 2000, and the quality of our jobs continues to decline.

This is absolutely destroying the middle class.  Unless the employment situation in this country starts to turn around, there does not seem to be much hope that the middle class will recover any time soon.

Meanwhile, there are emerging signs of trouble for the wealthy as well.

For instance, just like we witnessed back in 2007, things are starting to look a bit shaky at the “too big to fail” banks.  The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC report

Citigroup has joined the ranks of those with trading troubles, as a high-ranking official told the Deutsche Bank 2014 Global Financial Services Investor Conference Tuesday that adjusted trading revenue probably will decline 20 percent to 25 percent in the second quarter on an annualized basis.

“People are uncertain,” Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said of investor behavior, according to an account from the Wall Street Journal. “There just isn’t a lot of movement.”

In recent weeks, officials at JPMorgan Chase and Barclays also both reported likely drops in trading revenue. JPMorgan said it expected a decline of 20 percent of the quarter, while Barclays anticipates a 41 percent drop, prompting it to announce mass layoffs that will pare 19,000 jobs by the end of 2016.

Remember, very few people expected a recession the last time around either.  In fact, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke repeatedly promised us that we would not have a recession and then we went on to experience the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

It will be the same this time as well.  Just like in 2007, we will continue to get an endless supply of “hopetimism” from our politicians and the mainstream media, and they will continue to fill our heads with visions of rainbows, unicorns and economic prosperity for as far as the eyes can see.

But then the next recession will strike and most Americans will be completely blindsided by it.

29 Incredible Facts Which Prove That Poverty In America Is Absolutely Exploding

Poverty In America - Photo by C.G.P. GreyDid you know that the number of Americans on welfare is higher than the number of Americans that have full-time jobs?  Did you know that 1.2 million public school students in the U.S. are currently homeless?  Anyone that uses the term “economic recovery” to describe what is happening in the United States today is being deeply insulting to the nearly 150 million Americans that are considered to be either “poor” or “low income” at this point.  Yes, things are great in New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, but almost everywhere else economic conditions continue to steadily get worse.  The gap between the wealthy and the poor is at a level that America has never seen before, and this is beginning to create a “Robin Hood mentality” that could cause a tremendous amount of social chaos in the years ahead.  Anger at the “haves” in America continues to rise at a very alarming pace, and the “have nots” are becoming increasingly desperate.  At some point all of this anger is going to boil over, and you won’t want to be anywhere around major population centers when that happens.  Despite unprecedented borrowing by the federal government in recent years, and despite unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve, poverty in the United States keeps getting worse with each passing year. The following are 29 incredible facts which prove that poverty in America is absolutely exploding…

1. What can you say about a nation that has more people getting handouts from the federal government than working full-time?  According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people receiving means-tested welfare benefits is greater than the number of full-time workers in the United States.

2. New numbers have just been released, and they show that the number of public school students in this country that are homeless is at an all-time record high.  It is hard to believe, but right now 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are homeless.  That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

3. When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone was from a middle class home.  But now that has all changed.  One recent study discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes.

4. How can anyone deny that we are a socialist nation when half the people are getting money from the federal government each month?  According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program.

5. Signs of increasing poverty are even showing up in the wealthiest areas of the nation.  According to the New York Post, New York subways are being “overrun with homeless“.

6. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  The number of Americans living in poverty is now at a level not seen since the 1960s.

7. The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States is at an all-time record high.  The wealthy may not consider this to be much of a problem, but those at the other end of the spectrum are very aware of this.

8. The “working poor” is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population.  At this point, approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

9. According to numbers provided by Wal-Mart, more than half of their hourly workers make less than $25,000 a year.

10. A recent Businessweek article mentioned a study that discovered that 300 employees at one Wal-Mart in Wisconsin receive a combined total of nearly a million dollars a year in public assistance…

“A decent wage is their demand—a livable wage, of all things,” said Representative George Miller (D-Calif.). The problem with companies like Wal-Mart is their “unwillingness, not their inability, to pay that wage,” he said. “They hand off the difference to taxpayers.” Miller was referring to a congressional report (PDF) released in May that calculated how much Walmart workers rely on public assistance. The study found that the 300 employees at one Supercenter in Wisconsin required some $900,000 worth of public assistance a year.

11. The stock market may be doing great (for the moment), but incomes for average Americans continue to decline.  In fact, median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

12. The quality of the jobs in America has been steadily dropping for years.  At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

13. According to a Gallup poll that was recently released, 20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year.  That is just under the record of 20.4% that was set back in November 2008.

14. Young adults are particularly feeling the sting of poverty these days.  American families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

15. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, one out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps.  Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.

16. The number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.

17. According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

18. We are told that we live in the “wealthiest nation” on the planet, and yet more than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.

19. The average food stamp benefit breaks down to approximately $4 per person per day.

20. It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps before they reach the age of 18.

21. Today, approximately 17 million children in the United States are facing food insecurity.  In other words, that means that “one in four children in the country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life.”

22. It may be hard to believe, but approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are currently living in homes that are considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.

23. The number of children living on $2.00 a day or less in the United States has grown to 2.8 million.  That number has increased by 130 percent since 1996.

24. In Miami, 45 percent of all children are living in poverty.

25. In Cleveland, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty.

26. According to a recently released report, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

27. According to a Feeding America hunger study, more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.

28. The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

29. It has been reported that 4 out of every 5 adults in the United States “struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives”.

These poverty numbers keep getting worse year after year no matter what our politicians do.

So is there anyone out there that would still like to argue that we are in an “economic recovery”?

And as I mentioned above, the “have nots” are becoming increasingly angry at the “haves”.  For example, just check out the following excerpt from a recent New York Post article

The maniac who butchered a Brooklyn mom and her four young kids confessed that he did it because he was jealous of their way of life, a police source told The Post on Sunday.

The family had too much. Their income (and) lifestyle was better than his,” the source said.

The bloody suspect was caught holding the kitchen knife he used during the Saturday night rampage inside the Sunset Park apartment where he had been staying with the victims, the source added.

Sadly, this was not an isolated incident.  All over the western world, a “Robin Hood mentality” is growing.  This is something that I am so concerned about that I made it a big part of my new book.  At this point, even wealthy Hollywood-types such as actor Russell Brand are calling for a socialist-style “revolution” and a “massive redistribution of wealth“.

Perhaps Brand does not understand that what he is calling for would mean redistributing most of his own wealth away from him.

When the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes, I fear that all of this anger and frustration that are growing among the poor will boil over in some very frightening ways.  I believe that we will see a huge spike in crime and that we will eventually see communities all over America looted and burning.

But I am not the only one that is thinking along these lines.  A new National Geographic Channel movie entitled “American Blackout” attempts to portray the social chaos that could erupt in the event of an extended national power failure

American Blackout, National Geographic Channel’s two-hour, edge-of-your-seat movie event imagines the story of a national power failure in the United States caused by a cyberattack — told in real time, over 10 days, by those who kept filming on cameras and phones. You’ll learn what it means to be absolutely powerless.

You can view a clip of the film that was made available by NatGeo for the SHTFplan.com community right here.

What would you do if something like that happened to you?

How would you handle desperate, hungry people at your fence asking for food?

And what if those people were armed and were not “asking nicely” for your food?

Don’t ignore what is happening in America right now.  It is setting the stage for some very chaotic times.

Get ready while you still can.

These 12 Hellholes Are Examples Of What The Rest Of America Will Look Like Soon

Do you want to see where this country is headed?  If so, don’t focus on the few areas that are still very prosperous.  New York City has Wall Street, Washington D.C. has the federal government and Silicon Valley has Google and Facebook.  Those are the exceptions.  The reality is that most of the country has been experiencing a slow decline for a very long time and once thriving cities such as Gary, Indiana and Flint, Michigan have become absolute hellholes.  They are examples of what the rest of America will look like soon.  60 years ago, most Americans were decent, hard working people and there were always good jobs available for anyone that was willing to roll up his or her sleeves and put in an honest day of work.  But now all of that has changed.  Over the past decade, tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities have shut down and millions of jobs have left the country.  Cities such as Cleveland, Baltimore and Detroit were once shining examples of everything that was right about America, but now they stand out like festering sores.  The “blue collar cities” have been hit the hardest by the gutting of our economic infrastructure.  There are many communities in America today where it seems like all of the hope and all of the life have been sucked right out of them.  You can see it in the eyes of the people.  The good times are gone permanently and they know it.  Unfortunately, the remainder of the country will soon be experiencing the despair that those communities are feeling.

The following are 12 hellholes that are examples of what the rest of America will look like soon….

#1 Gary, Indiana

Gary, Indiana was once a great industrial city.

Today, it is one of the ten most dangerous cities in America, and the population has fallen by about 50 percent.

The following is from a recent Daily Mail article….

Frequently rated one of the ten most dangerous cities in the United States, Gary once boomed with jobs and opportunities but now faces the acute difficulties of America’s growing rust belt, with 22 percent of families in the once-great city now lying below the poverty line.

This modern American ghost town began life as home for workers at the United States Steel Corporation plant until economic competition from abroad forced a 90 percent job cut.

It is hard to describe what is happening to Gary without using the word “depressing”.  You can watch a great video that shows what Gary, Indiana looks like these days right here.

This is what happens when industry leaves and there are no jobs.  Gary has become a wasteland and there is essentially no hope for a turnaround.

The following is how James Kunstler described what he experienced when he traveled through Gary, Indiana recently….

Between the ghostly remnants of factories stood a score of small cities and neighborhoods where the immigrants settled five generations ago. A lot of it was foreclosed and shuttered. They were places of such stunning, relentless dreariness that you felt depressed just imagining how depressed the remaining denizens of these endless blocks of run-down shoebox houses must feel. Judging from the frequency of taquerias in the 1950s-vintage strip-malls, one inferred that the old Eastern European population had been lately supplanted by a new wave of Mexicans. They had inherited an infrastructure for daily life that was utterly devoid of conscious artistry when it was new, and now had the special patina of supernatural rot over it that only comes from materials not found in nature disintegrating in surprising and unexpected ways, sometimes even sublimely, like the sheen of an oil slick on water at a certain angle to the sun. There was a Chernobyl-like grandeur to it, as of the longed-for end of something enormous that hadn’t worked out well.

Sadly, Gary is far from alone.  There are a whole host of other formerly great U.S. cities that are degenerating into hellholes as well.

#2 Chicago, Illinois

There is something truly special about Chicago.  Most of America loved the Bears of the Walter Payton era, the Bulls of the Michael Jordan era and the Cubs of the Ernie Banks era.  Chicago is also known for great architecture and great pizza.

But these days “the windy city” is becoming known for other things.

The murder rate in Chicago is up 38 percent so far this year, and the recent spike in violence in the city has made national headlines.

As I noted the other day, there are only about 200 police officers in Chicago’s Gang Enforcement Unit to deal with an estimated 100,000 gang members.

That means that those officers are outnumbered 500 to 1, and more gang members pour into the city every single day.

The escalating violence in Chicago was detailed in a recent article in the Telegraph….

“This is a block-to-block war here, a different dynasty on every street,” said a dreadlocked young man heavily inked in gang tattoos who calls himself “Killer”.

“All the black brothers just want to get rich, but we got no jobs and no hope. We want the violence to stop but you ain’t safe if you ain’t got your pistol with you. Too many friends, too many men are being killed. We don’t even cry at funerals no -more. Nobody expects to live past 21 here.”

The victims and killers are mainly black males aged between 15 and 35, often with gang affiliations – but not exclusively. A seven-year-old girl, Heaven Sutton, was buried this month after being gunned down at her mother’s street sweet store. And last week, two girls aged 12 and 13 were shot and badly-wounded as they walked home from a newly-opened community centre.

If you are thinking of moving to Chicago, you might want to think again.

#3 Detroit, Michigan

I have written repeatedly about Detroit because it is a perfect example of what the rest of America is going to look like soon.

Once upon a time it was regarded as one of the top manufacturing cities the world had ever seen, but today it has become a total hellhole.

There are very few decent jobs available, poverty has exploded and crime is everywhere.

If you can believe it, 53.6% of all children in Detroit are living in poverty, and only 25 percent of all students in Detroit graduate from high school at this point.

And as I wrote about recently, justifiable homicide in Detroit increased by a whopping 79 percent during 2011, and the rate of self-defense killings in Detroit is now approximately 2200% above the national average.

Is it any wonder that you can still buy a house for $100 in some areas of Detroit?

The truth is that many areas of Detroit now resemble a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Perhaps that is why one team of investors actually wants to turn some of the worst areas of Detroit into a zombie theme park….

Derelict areas of Detroit face being taken over by hordes of ‘flesh and brain-eating zombies’ if an ambitious business plan takes off.

Entrepreneur Mark Siwak wants to create live-action terror theme park ‘Z World’ on Motor City’s run-down and abandoned streets.

Customers would pay to be chased by professional actors and try to seek shelter in ghostly homes, factories and businesses.

You can see some great video of the “ruins of Detroit” right here.

#4 Stockton, California

Stockton is one of the ten most dangerous cities in America and it recently made national headlines when it declared bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, as spending on law enforcement has declined it has given the criminals a lot more room to operate in Stockton.  The following is from a recent Business Insider article….

The city has cut more than $90 million in spending over the past few years, specifically in its police department. The city has cut over one quarter of its police jobs, which has led to a “surge in murders,” and has created an “emboldened criminal element” in the city. According to police spokesman Joe Silva, the city has had 87 murders since the start of 2011, 29 of which have already occurred this year. In contrast, there were 35 murders in 2009 and 48 in 2010. With six months left in the year, there have already been more murders in the city since the start of 2011 than the two-year stretch of 2009-2010.

A while back in Stockton a billboard was put up with the following message: “Welcome to the 2nd most dangerous city in California. Stop laying off cops.”

#5 Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan is a city that Michael Moore has made famous.  Flint once supported hordes of middle class workers thanks to a thriving auto industry, but today it is a just a rotting shell.  It looks like a war went through it and nobody bothered to clean up the mess.

At this point, the murder rate in Flint, Michigan is worse than the murder rate in Baghdad.  That is how nightmarish things have become in Flint.

The following is from an article in the New York Times….

It’s not that the cops here are scared; it’s just that they’re outmanned, outgunned and flat broke.

Flint is the birthplace of General Motors and the home of the U.A.W.’s first big strike. In case you didn’t know this, the words “Vehicle City” are spelled out on the archway spanning the Flint River.

But the name is a lie. Flint isn’t Vehicle City anymore. The Buick City complex is gone. The spark-plug plant is gone. Fisher Body is gone.

What Flint is now is one of America’s murder capitals. Last year in Flint, population 102,000, there were 66 documented murders. The murder rate here is worse than those in Newark and St. Louis and New Orleans. It’s even worse than Baghdad’s.

Politicians love to go to Flint and make speeches, but things never get any better.  The following are comments that Joe Biden made about Flint, Michigan during a recent speech he gave to promote a jobs bill….

“In 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city. In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65 and rapes–just to pick two categories–climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields. God only knows what the numbers will be this year for Flint if we don’t rectify it.”

But don’t look down on Flint – these kinds of conditions are coming to where you live soon enough.

#6 West Philly

Did you know that 36.4% of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty?

There are some sections of Philadelphia that are actually very nice, but there are others that look like society has forgotten about them for decades.

A recent article by Jim Quinn entitled “More Than 30 Blocks Of Grey And Decay” described the depressing conditions in West Philadelphia.  Quinn refers to his drive through this area as “the 30 Blocks of Squalor”….

The real unemployment rate exceeds 50%, murder is the number one industry, with drugs a close second.

But it was not always this way.  Once upon a time, West Philly was actually a thriving area and was full of middle class families.

So what happened?

That is a very good question.

According to Quinn, the physical decay in West Philly is matched by the social decay….

The once proud homes are in shambles. Bags of garbage dot the landscape. Most of the people who live here are parasites on society. Personal responsibility, work ethic, education and marriage are unknown concepts in this community. Even though more than 50% of the students in West Philly drop out of high school and the SAT scores of West Philly High students are lower than whale ****, the bankrupt school district spent $70 million to build a new high school/prison to babysit derelicts and future prison inmates. The windows do not have steel bars yet, as the architect was smart to put all windows at least eight feet above street level.

These days there is a lot of despair in “the city of brotherly love”.  It is so sad to see what is happening to what once was such a proud city.

#7 Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland has always had a love/hate relationship with itself.  Many who live there call it “the mistake by the lake”, but the truth is that it was once a truly great city.

Sadly, today it is symbol of what has gone wrong with America.

There has been a steady stream of businesses that have left Cleveland and today 52.6% of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty.

There are not enough good jobs in Cleveland anymore, and so there are not enough workers to buy the tens of thousands of homes that have been foreclosed or abandoned.

So what is being done with all of those empty homes?

Unfortunately, they are being torn down.

The following comes from a recent CBS News report by Scott Pelley….

Across America, recession-fueled foreclosures and plummeting home values have left countless properties abandoned and vulnerable to looting. As Scott Pelley reports, the problem has gotten so bad in Cleveland, Ohio, that county officials have demolished more than 1,000 homes this year – and plan to demolish 20,000 more – rather than let the blight spread and render nearby homes worthless.

Does that seem right to you?

Should Cleveland be destroying tens of thousands of homes that families could be using?

Something has gone very, very wrong in this country.

#8 Camden, New Jersey

If you want to see what a hellhole looks like just visit Camden, New Jersey.

Although you will probably want to take an armed escort with you.

As industry has abandoned Camden, the gangs have basically taken over.  The “growth industries” in Camden these days are drug dealing and prostitution.

In an article entitled “City of Ruins“, reporter Chris Hedges described what life is like in Camden at this point….

There are perhaps a hundred open-air drug markets, most run by gangs like the Bloods, the Latin Kings, Los Nietos and MS-13. Knots of young men in black leather jackets and baggy sweatshirts sell weed and crack to clients, many of whom drive in from the suburbs. The drug trade is one of the city’s few thriving businesses. A weapon, police say, is never more than a few feet away, usually stashed behind a trash can, in the grass or on a porch.

Not that other cities in New Jersey are shining examples for the rest of the world either.

For example, if you want to get really depressed just drive through the bad parts of Newark some time.

#9 St. Louis

According to U.S. News and World Report, the most dangerous city in the United States is St. Louis.

If you have a death wish, just wander around the streets of East St. Louis at night.

There is a decent chance that someone will shoot you.

Things were not always this way in St. Louis.  But today things have gotten so bad that you can find packs of wild dogs roaming the city digging through trash and threatening children.

The following is from a report by the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis….

…Lewis Reed is sounding the alarm. “I’ve witnessed packs of dogs, 10 and 15 dogs running together, and I’ve seen all these dogs I’m talking about they don’t have collars, they don’t have tags, these are truly wild dogs,” he said.

Reed says stray dogs are terrorizing the north side. “It’s obscene that parents have to walk their kids to school, in some parts of the city, with a golf club to fend off wild dogs.”

This kind of thing is actually happening in America?

#10 New Orleans, Louisiana

The problems that New Orleans has experienced have been well documented.

But unlike most of the cities listed above, at least New Orleans has an excuse.  New Orleans permanently lost 29% of its population after Hurricane Katrina, and large sections of the city were essentially destroyed by that storm.

Even today, there are still some areas of New Orleans that look as if they have just been bombed.

It has been estimated that about 20 percent of the homes in New Orleans are still standing vacant, and poverty is rampant.  New Orleans will probably never fully recover to the level it was at before Hurricane Katrina hit.

#11 Oakland, California

Oakland has always been in the shadow of San Francisco, and the contrast between the two cities continues to grow.

Oakland has always been considered one of the more dangerous cities in America, and this year crime rates in Oakland are rising rapidly.  The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….

At the beginning of April, murders in Oakland were up 26 percent over a year ago, rapes were up 41 percent, and robberies were up 35 percent.

When Chief Batts arrived as a “change agent” in 2009, the police department employed 837 officers. It now has 635. The department no longer responds to burglaries that are not still in progress, and frequently does not respond to other calls for help.

So if your house has been robbed and the burglars are gone what are you supposed to do?

Due to a crippling lack of resources, the previous police chief decided that his department would no longer be able to respond to all crimes.

The following is a partial list of the crimes that police in Oakland are no longer likely to respond to….

  • burglary
  • theft
  • embezzlement
  • grand theft
  • grand theft: dog
  • identity theft
  • false information to peace officer
  • required to register as sex or arson offender
  • dump waste or offensive matter
  • loud music
  • possess forged notes
  • pass fictitious check
  • obtain money by false voucher
  • fraudulent use of access cards
  • stolen license plate
  • embezzlement by an employee
  • extortion
  • attempted extortion
  • false personification of other
  • injure telephone/power line
  • interfere with power line
  • unauthorized cable tv connection
  • vandalism

So what do you do if you are a victim of one of those crimes in Oakland?

That is a very good question.

#12 Baltimore, Maryland

If you can believe it, Baltimore was actually once a great city.

But today it has become a crime-ridden, drug-infested hellhole.

I used to drive up to Baltimore all the time.  It truly is a “blue collar” city.  There are a lot of really hard working people there.

Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough jobs for everyone and a lot of people have turned to drugs and crime.

There are some areas of Baltimore that you really should never enter by yourself.  If you do go into them, you might not make it back out.

There was one incident in Baltimore earlier this year that was particularly disturbing.

One poor young man had gotten drunk and was apparently wandering around all by himself.  Some thugs approached him and they clearly sensed that he was vulnerable.  So they knocked him to the ground, stripped him of his car keys, his watch, his money, his cell phone and his clothes.

A crowd gathered around to watch, and instead of helping the man, several of them got out their cell phones and laughed hysterically while they recorded the incident with their cell phone cameras for YouTube.

What made all of this even sadder is that this happened right in front of a Baltimore courthouse.

What in the world has happened to this nation?

All of us that still love this country should be deeply saddened by everything above.

America is rotting from the inside out, and if we are ever going to find any solutions we need to start admitting how bad things have really become.

The truth is that our problems are not limited to one political party, one special interest group or to one region of the country.  The social decay that is plaguing America can literally be found everywhere.

For much more on this, please see the following four articles….

1) “25 Signs The Collapse Of America Is Speeding Up As Society Rots From The Inside Out

2) “70 Reasons To Mourn For America

3) “20 Signs That Society Is Breaking Down And That America Has Been Overrun By Psychos

4) “12 Factors That Are Turning The Streets Of America Into A Living Hell

So don’t laugh at Detroit or Cleveland or St. Louis.

The rest of the country is declining too.

If the city where you live is not a hellhole already, it will be soon enough.

If One Storm Can Turn D.C. Dark For Several Days, What Would A Massive EMP Burst Do?

Sometimes we all get a little reminder of just how completely and totally dependent we are on the power grid.  Massive thunderstorms that ripped through Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia left millions without power over the weekend.  At this point it is being projected that some people may not get power back until the end of the week.  The “super derecho” storm that pounded the Washington D.C. area on Friday night with hurricane-force winds is being called unprecedented.  But the truth is that there are other events that could happen that would be far more damaging to our power grid.  For example, a substantial EMP burst over a major U.S. city would fry virtually all of the electronics in the city and take the power grid in the area down indefinitely.  A gigantic EMP burst over the entire country (caused by a massive solar storm or a very large nuclear explosion high in the atmosphere) could theoretically take down the entire national power grid.  Just try to imagine a world where nobody has any electricity, nobody can pump gas, nobody can use their credit cards or get any more money, where most vehicles won’t start, where nobody has the Internet, where all cell phones are dead and where nobody can heat or cool their homes.  That is how serious an EMP burst could potentially be.  We are talking about an event that could be millions of times worse than 9/11.

Hopefully this latest storm has reminded Americans about how vulnerable our power grid really is and about how close we really are to being knocked back to the late 1800s.

Let’s review some of the damage that this “super derecho” storm caused to the D.C. area….

-Thousands of businesses have been forced to close temporarily because they cannot operate without electricity

-Many federal agencies were closed on Monday because there was no power

-Many 911 call centers throughout Northern Virginia were down over the weekend and could not respond to emergencies

-Without electricity, many families have not been able to cook warm meals

-Without warm water, many families have not been able to take hot showers

-A “boil water advisory” was put into effect for several areas of northern Virginia

-Many families that still do not have power are in danger of losing much of the food in their refrigerators and freezers

-Many gas stations were not able to operate because of a lack of electricity and so this has made filling up the gas tank a major hassle for many families

-Hundreds of traffic lights are still out and this is making commuting a major problem in some areas

-Without air conditioning many families are absolutely sweltering as high temperatures remain well above 90 degrees

-During the power outage some people have been without cell phone service because many cell phone towers were inoperable

-Without electricity, thousands upon thousands of people have not been able to use their computers for several days and this is causing a lot of frustration

-Several major websites were totally knocked offline by the storms as Robert McMillan of Wired Magazine explained….

Hurricane-like storms knocked an Amazon data center in Ashburn, Virginia, offline last night, and a chunk of the internet felt it. The six-hour incident temporarily cut off a number of popular internet services, including Netflix, Pinterest, Heroku, and Instagram.

But to be honest this was not a major disaster.

After a few days the damage will be fixed and people will start to forget what just happened.

Well, what if the damage was permanent and the entire nation had to go without electricity for the foreseeable future?  The following is from a USA Today article by Dan Vergano….

The sky erupts. Cities darken, food spoils and homes fall silent. Civilization collapses.

End-of-the-world novel? A video game? Or could such a scenario loom in America’s future?

There is talk of catastrophe ahead, depending on whom you believe, because of the threat of an electromagnetic pulse triggered by either a supersized solar storm or terrorist A-bomb, both capable of disabling the electric grid that powers modern life.

As I have written about previously, an EMP attack could fundamentally change life in America in a single instant.

What would you do if such a scenario happened?

Would you try to go somewhere?  Even if the electronics in your car were not totally fried, you would not be able to pump more gas anywhere.

Would you try to call someone?  Most phones would be totally dead and all normal communications networks would be down.  So who would you call?

Would you bunker down and try to survive on what you have at home?  Most of the food in your refrigerator and freezer would rapidly go bad and most Americans only have enough food to last a few days or a few weeks.  In addition, most Americans would no longer be able to heat or cool their homes, so extreme cold and extreme heat would become huge problems very quickly.

How in the world would any of us survive in a world without electricity?

In past centuries our forefathers knew how to survive in such a world, but most of us do not have the same skills or resources that they had.

The following is how an article in the Wall Street Journal once described what a massive EMP burst would do to this nation….

No American would necessarily die in the initial attack, but what comes next is potentially catastrophic. The pulse would wipe out most electronics and telecommunications, including the power grid. Millions could die for want of modern medical care or even of starvation since farmers wouldn’t be able to harvest crops and distributors wouldn’t be able to get food to supermarkets. Commissioner Lowell Wood calls EMP attack a “giant continental time machine” that would move us back more than a century in technology to the late 1800s.

What would you do if you were suddenly cut off from all electricity, all money, all modern forms of communication, all modern forms of transportation and all modern forms of shopping?

Don’t think that it can’t happen.

Scientists tell us that massive EMP bursts generated by gigantic solar storms have hit our planet in the past and that it is inevitable that it will happen again.

In addition, nations all over the planet are aware of what an EMP burst can do and have been developing “Super-EMP” weapons that can take power grids down in a single strike.

The following is a short excerpt from a statement by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security on March 8th, 2005….

Russian and Chinese military scientists in open source writings describe the basic principles of nuclear weapons designed specifically to generate an enhanced-EMP effect, that they term “Super-EMP” weapons. “Super-EMP” weapons, according to these foreign open source writings, can destroy even the best protected U.S. military and civilian electronic systems.

That doesn’t sound good.

But perhaps even more troubling is that North Korea has been reportedly developing this type of weapon.  In fact, it has been reported that North Korea may have tested a “Super-EMP” weapon all the way back in 2009….

North Korea’s last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states

In time, these kinds of weapons will get into more and more hands.

Will someone try to use this kind of weapon at some point?

Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, believes that a single EMP burst could potentially end up killing the vast majority of the population of the United States….

“Within a year of that attack, nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can’t support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity”

Once you understand these kinds of threats, it makes it a lot easier to understand why preppers are so busy preparing for the future.

Our world is becoming incredibly unstable.  Another major economic crisis could hit us at any time, war in the Middle East could erupt without warning, earthquakes and other natural disasters are becoming more frequent and society seems to get a little crazier with each passing day.

The era of tremendous peace and prosperity that we have all been enjoying is rapidly coming to an end.  In a world filled with instability and chaos, it only seems prudent to take some precautions.

You might want to get prepared while you still have time.

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