The Beginning Of The End
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The Most Homeless Children In New York City Since The Great Depression

Child Crying - Photo by D Sharon PruittAt a time when Wall Street is absolutely swimming in wealth, New York City is experiencing an epidemic of homelessness.  According to the New York Times, the last time there was this many homeless children in New York City was during the days of the Great Depression.  And the number of homeless children in the United States overall recently set a new all-time record.  As I mentioned yesterday, there are now 1.2 million public school kids in America that are homeless, and that number has gone up by about 72 percent since the start of the last recession.  As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as “the wealthiest nation on the planet”, and yet the number of young kids that don’t even have a roof over their heads at night just keeps skyrocketing.  There truly are “two Americas” today, and unfortunately most Americans that live in “good America” don’t seem to really care too much about the extreme suffering that is going on in “bad America”.  In the end, what kind of price will we all pay for neglecting the most vulnerable members of our society?

If you live in “good America”, I very much encourage you to read an excellent piece about homelessness in New York City that was just published in the New York Times.  What some young kids have to go through on a nightly basis should break all of our hearts…

She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.

Could you imagine having your own family live like that?  The name of the little girl in the story is Dasani, and every night her family sleeps in a city-run homeless shelter that sounds like it is straight out of a horror movie…

Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.

It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.

You can read the rest of that excellent article right here.  Sadly, there are countless other children just like Dasani that live like this day after day, month after month, year after year.

Shouldn’t we be able to do better than this as a society?  After all, the stock market has been hovering near record highs lately, and Wall Street is absolutely drenched with wealth for the moment.

With so much wealth floating around, why are New York City subways being “overrun with homeless” right now?

Something has gone horribly wrong.

I think that a recent editorial by David Simon, the creator of the Wire, summarized things pretty well.  We are not “one America” anymore, and most of the people that live in “good America” don’t really care much about those living in “bad America”…

America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It’s astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.

There’s no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be.

Once upon a time, things were different in America.  Nobody resented businessmen for building strong businesses and making lots of money.  And successful businessmen such as Henry Ford hired large numbers of American workers and paid them very well.  He felt that his workers should make enough money to buy the cars that they were building.  In those days, businessmen were loyal to their workers and workers were loyal to those that employed them.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  Today, in business schools all over America students are taught that the sole purpose of a corporation is to make as much money as possible for the stockholders.  Not that there is anything wrong with making money.  But at this point we have elevated greed above all other economic goals.  Taking care of one another isn’t even a consideration anymore.

In the old days, big businesses actually needed our labor.  But that is now no longer the case.  Today, corporations are shipping millions of our jobs overseas and they are replacing as many of us with technology as they possibly can.  The value of the labor of the working man is declining with each passing day.

As a result, the fortunes of big business and American workers are increasingly diverging.  For example, the disconnect between employment levels and stock prices has never been greater in this country.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

And instead of fixing things, Barack Obama is negotiating a secret treaty which will result in millions more American jobs being shipped overseas.  The following is a brief excerpt about this secret treaty from an Australian news source

The government has refused the Senate access to the secret text of the trade deal it is negotiating in Singapore, saying it will only be made public after it has been signed.

As the final round of ministerial talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership resumed on Sunday, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote to each of the 12 participating nations warning that the deal and the secrecy surrounding it presented ”grave risks”.

So why aren’t we hearing much about this secret treaty from U.S. news sources?

If this is going to affect millions of American jobs, shouldn’t the mainstream media be making a big deal out of this?

And even if we weren’t losing millions of jobs to the other side of the planet, we would still be losing millions of jobs to advancements in technology.  In fact, a CNBC article that was posted earlier this week seems to look forward to the day when nobody will have to worry about the low pay that fast food workers get anymore because they will all be replaced by droids…

Maybe so, but as fast food workers protest low wages and the president of the United States equates hard work with the right to decent pay, the rise of technology once again proves to be no stunt, or laughing matter. McDonald’s, where food production is already about as mechanized as food science allows, stopped updating the famous number “served” figure at its restaurants back in 1994—just short of 100 billion—but how long will it be before trillions are served their burgers and fries by a drone, after being cooked by a droid? Those machines work for cheap, and the best thing is, they have no concept of hard work, or dignity, or the foresight to consider whether or not the “cool” things they can do ultimately contribute, or detract, from a strong, consumer-dependent economy.

So what is the solution to all of this?

Where will the millions of desperately needed jobs for “bad America” come from?

Well, it appears that good ideas are in short supply these days.  In fact, some of the ideas being promoted by our “leaders” are absolutely insane.  For example, one prominent entrepreneur recently suggested that the solution to our employment crisis is for Congress to pass an immigration bill which would bring in 30 million more low-skilled workers over the next ten years…

Middle class Americans face a tough future because robots and machinery are eliminating their jobs, according to Steve Case, an entrepreneur who earned roughly $1 billion by creating the first successful internet firm, America Online.

But Congress could help the situation by passing an immigration bill that would import some foreign entrepreneurs and almost 30 million low-skilled workers over the next decade, Case told an audience of D.C. lobbyists and lawyers gathered on Tuesday by the business-backed Bipartisan Policy Center.

Exactly how would this improve the employment situation in this country?

I still cannot figure that one out.

But there are people out there that actually believe this stuff.

Meanwhile, many parts of Europe are suffering through similar things.

The unemployment rate in the eurozone recently hit a new all-time high, and the number of people living in poverty in Europe just continues to grow

Over 124 million people in the European Union – or almost a quarter of its entire population – live under the threat of poverty or social exclusion, a report by EU’s statistical office has revealed.

Last year, 124.5 million people, or 24.8 percent of Europe’s population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 24.3 percent in 2011 and 23.7 percent in 2008, the Eurostat said in a document published earlier in the week.

So what is going to fix this?

Where are the good jobs for workers in North America and Europe going to come from in the years ahead?

If you have a potential solution, please feel free to share it below…

Top 1% Own 39% Of All Global Wealth: Hoarding Soars As We Hurtle Toward Economic Oblivion

Little Boy - Poverty In Africa - Photo by Herman PietersAccording to a study that was just released by Boston Consulting Group, the wealthiest one percent now own 39 percent of all the wealth in the world.  Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent only own 1 percent of all the wealth in the world combined.  The global financial system has been designed to funnel wealth to the very top, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to expand at a frightening pace.  The global elite continue to hoard wealth and heap together enormous mountains of treasure in these troubled days even though the economic suffering around the planet continues to grow.  So exactly how have the global elite accumulated so much wealth?  Well, one of the primary ways is through the use of debt.  As I have written about previously, there is about 190 trillion dollars of debt in the world but global GDP is only about 70 trillion dollars.  Our debt-based global financial system systematically transfers wealth from us and our governments into the hands of the global elite.  And of course the gigantic banks and corporations that the elite control are constantly gobbling up everything of value that they can find: natural resources, profitable small businesses, real estate, politicians, etc.  Money, power, ownership and control are becoming very, very tightly concentrated at the top of the food chain, and that is a very dangerous thing for humanity.  When too much money and power gets into too few hands, it almost always results in tyranny.

What will eventually happen when the global elite have ALL the wealth?

Will the rest of us work as serfs in a system that they have iron-fisted control over?

And what if they decide that they don’t really need billions of people working for them?  Will they decide to implement population control measures in order to reduce the number of “useless eaters”?  It is already happening in China and other highly centralized societies.

When all of the economic rewards of a society go to a very small handful of people, it tends to be very destabilizing.  We have seen this again and again throughout history.

When people have everything taken away from them and they have nothing left to lose, they tend to become very desperate.  And right now we are rapidly hurtling toward a time of great global instability.  Anger and frustration are growing all over the globe, and the rate at which the gap between the wealthy and the poor is widening seems to be accelerating.  Just check out these numbers…

-The wealthiest 1 percent of the global population now owns 39 percent of all the wealth on the planet.

-According to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the planet.

-According to a study conducted by Credit Suisse, the bottom two-thirds of the global population owns just 3.3% of all the wealth.

-A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the world population owns approximately 1 percent of all global wealth.

-It is estimated that the entire continent of Africa only owns approximately 1 percent of the total wealth of the world.

-Approximately 1 billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry each night.

-If you can believe it, more than 3 billion people currently live on less than 2 dollar a day.

In the world that we live in, money equals power.  And the more money that the top one percent accumulate, the more power they will accumulate as well.

So exactly who are the top one percent?  I discussed this at length in my previous article entitled “Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Is Pulling The Strings“.  The global elite are absolutely obsessed with power and control and they have been working to implement their agenda for a very long time.  In the end, they hope to unite the entire planet under a monolithic global system that they control.  They are actually quite open about this – it is just that most people do not want to believe it.

The gap between the wealthy and the poor is rapidly growing in the United States as well.  Sadly, this means that the middle class is steadily disappearing as the ranks of those that are living in poverty continues to increase.

But of course not everyone is doing badly in the U.S. right now.  In fact, those that own stocks have had lots of reasons to celebrate in recent months.

So who owns stocks?

Well, the wealthy do of course.  In fact, approximately 60 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the top 5 percent of all Americans.

During the last recession, Americans lost 16 trillion dollars of wealth.  Since then, about 45 percent of that wealth has been “recovered”, but the vast majority of that “recovery” has been due to rising stock prices.  The following comes from a recent Washington Post article

From the peak of the boom to the bottom of the bust, households watched a total of $16 trillion in wealth disappear amid sinking stock prices and the rubble of the real estate market. Since then, Americans have only been able to recapture 45 percent of that amount on average, after adjusting for inflation and population growth, according to the report from the St. Louis Fed released Thursday.

In addition, the report showed most of the improvement was due to gains in the stock market, which primarily benefit wealthy families. That means the recovery for other households has been even weaker.

“A conclusion that the financial damage of the crisis and recession largely has been repaired is not justified,” the report stated.

Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most thriving middle class in the history of the world.  That was a great thing.  But now the middle class is being destroyed and government dependence has surged to an all-time high.

The following are some of the incredible statistics that show how wide the gap between the wealthy and the poor in America is becoming…

-The wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans now own more than a third of all the wealth in the United States.

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

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

-The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

-On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.

-Between 2009 and 2011, the wealth of the bottom 93 percent of all Americans declined by 4 percent, while the wealth of the top 7 percent of all Americans increased by 28 percent.

-The poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

-The top 0.01% of all Americans make an average of $27,342,212.  The bottom 90% make an average of $31,244.

For much more on how poverty is rising and the middle class is being destroyed, please see my recent article entitled “22 Facts That Prove That The Bottom 90 Percent Of America Is Systematically Getting Poorer“.

Obviously we have a huge problem here.

With each passing day, poverty is rising and more people are becoming dependent on the government.

So what is the solution to this mess?

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

20 Signs That The U.S. Poverty Explosion Is Hitting Children And Young People The Hardest

20 Signs That The U.S. Poverty Explosion Is Hitting Children And Young People The Hardest - Photo by Franco FoliniThe mainstream media continues to insist that the economy is “getting better”, but the poverty numbers for children and young people just continue to explode.  For example, did you know that the poverty rate for families with a head of household under the age of 30 is a whopping 37 percent?  Children and young people sure didn’t cause our recent economic downturn, but they sure are getting hit the hardest by it.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, for the first time ever more than a million U.S. public school students are homeless.  That seems like an impossible number, but it is actually true.  How in the world could the “wealthiest nation on earth” get to the point where more than a million children can’t count on a warm bed to sleep in at night?  Sadly, a huge number of American children can’t count on a warm dinner either.  About a fourth of them are enrolled in the food stamp program.  What do you do if you are a parent in that kind of situation?  How do you explain to your kids that you can’t afford a nice home like everybody else has or that you can’t afford to go to the grocery store and buy them some dinner?

Young people are experiencing very rough times right now as well.  If you are under the age of 30, it is really, really difficult to get a job in America today.  The competition for the few decent jobs that seem to be available is absolutely crazy.  Unemployment among young people is at a level that we have not seen since World War II, and this is causing major problems.

Even if you do have a college degree, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get any type of a job.  In fact, more than half of all college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.  There are millions of very talented college graduates that are waiting tables, making sandwiches or stocking shelves down at the local branch of a global retail conglomerate.  Meanwhile, they are saddled with record breaking amounts of student loan debt.

This is easily the worst economic environment that we have seen for young people since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  The number of good jobs continues to decline.  Many young people are faced with the choice of taking a bad job or having no job at all.

If you are under 30 in America today, you better hope that you come from a wealthy family or that you have some really good connections, because otherwise the future looks pretty bleak for you.

The following are 20 signs that the U.S. poverty explosion is hitting children and young people the hardest…

1. If you can believe it, a higher percentage of children is living in poverty in America today than was the case back in 1975.

2. More than one out of every five children in the United States is currently living in poverty.

3. According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be “poor” or “low income”.

4. Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.

5. For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

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

7. One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.

8. The 18 to 24 age group has a higher unemployment rate than any other age group in the United States.

9. Young adult employment is now at the lowest level that we have seen since World War II.

10. In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

11. Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

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

13. Since the year 2000, incomes for U.S. households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you account for inflation.

14. In 1984, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older was 10 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.  Today, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older is 47 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.

15. During 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.

16. Many young people are finding that they cannot afford to get married these days.  Sadly, an all-time low 44.2 percent of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 are married right now.

17. Right now, approximately 53 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 24 age group are living at home.

18. The number of Americans in the 25 to 34 age group that live with their parents has grown by 25 percent since 2007.

19. One survey discovered that 85 percent of all college seniors plan on moving back in with their parents after graduation.

20. Overall, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents in the United States right now according to Time Magazine.

After reading all of those statistics, do you still doubt that America is in decline?  If so, you can find some more shocking statistics right here.

The truth is that it should be painfully evident to anyone with a brain that our economy is not working correctly anymore.  We have lots of talented people, but there are not nearly enough jobs and a lot of those very talented people end up sleeping out in the streets.

A recent New York Times article told the story of a young man named Duane Taylor.  Sadly, there are way too many young people out there today that are experiencing the same kind of things that he is…

Duane Taylor was studying the humanities in community college and living in his own place when he lost his job in a round of layoffs. Then he found, and lost, a second job. And a third.

Now, with what he calls “lowered standards” and a tenuous new position at a Jack in the Box restaurant, Mr. Taylor, 24, does not make enough to rent an apartment or share one. He sleeps on a mat in a homeless shelter, except when his sister lets him crash on her couch.

“At any time I could lose my job, my security,” said Mr. Taylor, explaining how he was always the last hired and the first fired. “I’d like to be able to support myself. That’s my only goal.”

There are millions upon millions of young people in America today that feel totally lost because they cannot find their places in the world.

They are angry, frustrated, depressed, desperate and disillusioned.  They felt like they did everything that the system told them to do, and now they feel like the system is failing them.

An unemployed 2010 graduate of the University of Florida named Lance Fuller expresses similar sentiments on his blog entitled “Voices Of A Lost Generation“…

They are the countless young men and women eager for an opportunity but have found few, if any. They have desirable skills, are highly educated, and are more than willing to work.

Sadly, crippled by college debt and graduated into a struggling economy, they stand little chance to find gainful employment in their chosen fields and take temporary jobs they are overqualified for. They lie waiting for the dream job they went to school for — but it probably doesn’t exist.

My name is Lance and sadly, I share in this story. Like my twentysomething peers, I am one of the thousands of faces of America’s Generation U — Unfortunate, Unlucky, and Unemployed.

I am fortunate that I have never been without money to buy food and have never had to spend a night on the street.  But tonight millions upon millions of Americans under the age of 30 will be faced with those kinds of circumstances.

Please say a prayer for them.  They didn’t cause the economic mess that we are in, but they are certainly paying the price for the mistakes that were made.

Does anyone out there have a similar story to the ones that were shared in this article?  If so, please feel free to share it below.  Perhaps your story will encourage someone else out there who is going through a really hard time right now.

Sad Child - Photo by David Shankbone

Greece Is Not Poor – It Actually Has Massive Uptapped Reserves Of Gold, Oil And Natural Gas

It turns out that the poster child for the European debt crisis is not actually poor at all.  In fact, the truth is that the nation of Greece is sitting on absolutely massive untapped reserves of gold, oil and natural gas.  If the Greeks were to fully exploit the natural resources that are literally right under their feet, they would no longer have any debt problems.  Fortunately, this recent economic crisis has spurred them to action and it is now being projected that Greece will be the number one gold producer in Europe by 2016.  In addition, Greece is now opening up exploration of their massive oil and natural gas deposits.  Reportedly, Greece is sitting on hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and gigantic natural gas deposits that are worth trillions of dollars.  It is truly sad that Greece should be one of the wealthiest nations in all of Europe but instead the country is going through the worst economic depression that it has experienced in modern history.  It is kind of like a homeless man that sleeps on the streets every night without realizing that a relative has left him an inheritance worth millions of dollars.  Greece is not poor at all, and hopefully the people of Greece can learn the truth about all of this wealth and chart a course out of this current mess.

I have written extensively about the nightmarish economic conditions that Greece is experiencing right now.  Just check out this article, this article and this article.  Since the depression began in Greece, the Greek economy has contracted by more than 20 percent.  In April 2010, the unemployment rate in Greece was only 11.8 percent.  Since then it has skyrocketed to 25.1 percent.

The government debt to GDP ratio in Greece is projected to hit 198 percent this year, and there are persistent rumors that Greece will be forced to leave the euro.

But all of this is completely and totally unnecessary.  Greece is not actually poor at all.  In fact, after you account for untapped natural resources, Greece is actually one of the wealthiest nations in all of Europe.

According to Bloomberg, there is a massive amount of gold in Greece.  This recent economic crisis has accelerated the approval of mining activity, and it is now being projected that Greece will soon be the number one gold producing country in all of Europe…

Gold mining is gathering momentum after Greece began what it called a “fast-track” approvals program. The Canadian and Australian companies said their projects will add about 425,000 ounces by 2016, worth $757 million at the Oct. 5 spot price, to the 16,000 ounces the country produced in 2011.

“There’s clearly evidence that Greece has woken up to the potential of their mining industry,” said Jeremy Wrathall, chairman of Perth-based Glory Resources. “Politicians increasingly realize that a pro-mining stance is appropriate due to job creation potential.”

Greece, which is also fast-tracking state property sales, is set to overtake Finland as the continent’s largest gold producer within four years, as regulators in Athens sign off on mines kept on hold for more than a decade by red tape and environmental rules.

But Greece doesn’t just have gold.  Greece is also swimming in oil and natural gas.  It turns out that Greece is sitting on the western edge of an absolutely mammoth sub-Mediterranean oil and gas field, and there are also huge deposits of oil and natural gas in the western parts of the country.

A Reuters article back in July discussed how foreign firms are now rushing to exploit these tremendous resources…

Greece has received eight bids by companies to search for oil and natural gas in three blocks in the western part of the country, the energy ministry said on Monday, as debt-laden Athens seeks to save money on energy imports.

Greece, which produces almost no oil or natural gas, aims to develop potential hydrocarbon reserves as part of an effort to overhaul its economy and lessen dependence on energy imports.

So exactly how much oil and natural gas does Greece have?

The numbers that are being reported so far are staggering.  The following comes from a Greek news source

Until now the offers for hydrocarbon exploration have concerned three blocks: The first is in the Gulf of Patra, the second off the coast of Katakolo — both in Western Greece — and the third at Ioannina, northwestern Greece.

Early estimates suggest that the Gulf of Patra may have 200 million barrels of crude oil, and that there are another 80 million at Ioannina and nearly 3 million off the coast of Katokolo.

Furthermore, according to the United States Geological Survey, in the sea between Crete, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, there are about 15 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and oil just waiting to be extracted.

The truth is that Greece has enough oil and natural gas to be able to pay off all of their debts.  The value of the natural gas that they are sitting on alone has been estimated to be worth trillions of dollars.  The following is from an article earlier this year by F. William Engdahl

In December 2010, as it seemed the Greek crisis might still be resolved without the by-now huge bailouts or privatizations, Greece’s Energy Ministry formed a special group of experts to research the prospects for oil and gas in Greek waters. Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas began increased investment into drilling in the offshore waters after a successful smaller oil discovery in 2009. Major geological surveys were made. Preliminary estimates now are that total offshore oil in Greek waters exceeds 22 billion barrels in the Ionian Sea off western Greece and some 4 billion barrels in the northern Aegean Sea. [1]

The southern Aegean Sea and Cretan Sea are yet to be explored, so the numbers could be significantly higher. An earlier Greek National Council for Energy Policy report stated that “Greece is one of the least explored countries in Europe regarding hydrocarbon (oil and gas-w.e.) potentials.” [2] According to one Greek analyst, Aristotle Vassilakis, “surveys already done that have measured the amount of natural gas estimate it to reach some nine trillion dollars.” [3]  Even if only a fraction of that is available, it would transform the finances of Greece and the entire region.

Tulane University oil expert David Hynes told an audience in Athens recently that Greece could potentially solve its entire public debt crisis through development of its new-found gas and oil. He conservatively estimates that exploitation of the reserves already discovered could bring the country more than €302 billion over 25 years.

So unlike several other nations in Europe, things actually look quite promising for Greece in the years ahead if they manage their resources correctly and don’t let foreigners come in and steal all of their wealth.

And perhaps this is why there is such hesitation to boot Greece out of the EU.  It seems probable that many of the top politicians in Europe know about all of this gold, oil and natural gas that Greece is sitting on.

Hopefully the people of Greece will learn about this massive amount of wealth that is just under their feet.  If they can figure out a way to get this wealth to start to flow into the hands of the people of Greece, a lot of their problems could be solved rather quickly and they could start to experience a massive economic turnaround.

Is America The Most Materialistic Society In The History Of The World?

When it comes to materialism, has any nation ever surpassed what we are seeing in the United States right now?  We define our lives by how much stuff we have, to a large degree our personal and business relationships are defined by how much money we make, and even most of the important dates on our calendar are all about materialism.  Just think about it.  We throw outrageous birthday parties for our kids and we shower them with gifts.  Most of our “holidays” have become highly materialistic, and the biggest holiday of all in our society, Christmas, is an absolute orgy of materialism.  We make lists of the “wealthiest Americans” and we glorify their achievements.  We spend most of our time either making money or spending it.  Even the phrase “the American Dream” reveals how materialistic we are.  When most people are asked what “the American Dream” is, they start talking about a house, a car, vacations, retirement, sending your kids to college, etc.  The American Dream has become all about money and stuff.  Sadly, no matter how big our homes are and no matter how many shiny new toys we accumulate, we never seem to be happy.  We always want more, and we always seem to be willing to go into more debt to get it.  We are the most materialistic society in the history of the world, and our endless greed is going to end up swallowing us alive.

When it comes to materialism in America, there are outrageous examples all around us, but one of my favorite examples is the “Rich Kids of Instagram“.  It is a Tumblr blog of photos from Instagram of young Americans showing off how they are enjoying the vast wealth of their parents.  The following is how the Washington Post describes the blog….

The controversial new Tumblr is a collection of snapshots from the photo-sharing site that depicts the children of wealth and privilege — summering in the Hamptons, lounging on yachts and posing by their luxury cars.

One does a back-flip out of a helicopter near St. Tropez. Others snap pictures of their restaurant bills — allegedly paying thousands of dollars for lobster, champagne and high-end liquor.

In the warm patina of the Instagram, the youngsters appear to be living over-the-top lifestyles — and enjoying every moment.

“Our everyday is better than your best day,” reads one caption, a bit tauntingly. And, “Do you have a horse in your backyard? Didn’t think so.”

But just because you have a horse on your property does that make your life better than the rest of our lives?

Of course not.

Wealth does not equal happiness.

Unfortunately, however, most Americans have totally bought into this lie.

Most Americans believe that more money equals a better life.

In response to “the Rich Kids of Instagram”, the Huffington Post recently put together a piece entitled “the Rich Cats of Instagram” that features photos of cats as they “model upscale accessories, lounge with bottles of champagne, sail on yachts and ponder life while relaxing atop piles of money.”

Of course a lot of those pictures are quite funny, but they also reveal a deep truth about our society.

We have spent our lives chasing after the almighty dollar thinking that it will make us happy.  Study after study has shown that we tend to link wealth and happiness.  The following is from a recent NBC News article about one of those studies….

Many parents already know older children can be materialistic. Some tweens not only want the latest games and clothes, but also think owning these things will bring them happiness, friends and popularity. And marketers are eager to get them to buy: Tweens spend $28 billion a year, not including the more than $200 billion their parents spend on them, according to market research company C+R Research.

But even though we have an incredibly high standard of living compared to most of the rest of the world, are most of us actually happy?

No way.  In fact, Americans take more anti-depressants than anyone else on the planet.

It is really easy to get caught up in materialism though.  Let me share an example from my own life.

Several months ago our old truck completely died.  Instead of pouring thousands of more dollars into fixing it, we decided that we would get another used truck.

So the other day I stopped by a dealership while my wife was grabbing some things from Home Depot.  The salesperson started showing me some of the used trucks on the lot, but after a while I suggested that he show me some of the new trucks that were sitting on the other side of the lot.

Before I knew it, I was sitting in the most expensive truck on the lot and he was showing me all of the cool features it had.

And I have to admit – for a few moments there I was really enamored with that truck.  It was the coolest truck that I had ever seen in my life.

Of course my wife and I don’t need a truck like that.  We only need to haul stuff around a few times a month.  And we certainly do not need the amount of debt that it would take to buy such a truck.

But for a few moments there I really wanted it.  The pull of materialism can be very strong.

So would that truck have “changed my life” or brought me lasting happiness?

Of course not.

It would have brought some thrills for the first couple of days, but after a while it would just be sitting in the garage taking up space just like any other truck would.

So did I end up buying a truck?

Not yet.  But we need one soon.  My wife has been without a truck for quite a few months now and she is getting impatient.

But whether we get a nice used truck or a used truck that has one foot in the grave, it really isn’t going to change our lives much.

In the end, our lives should not be defined by what we own or by how much money we have in the bank.

But how do we refer to ourselves in this day and age?

The American people are called “consumers” and the truth is that we consume far more than anyone else on the globe does.

Just look at our eating habits.  Of all the major industrialized nations, America is the most obese.

The next time you go into a store, take note of how many people are overweight.

It has not always been this way.  Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese.

But now overeating is a national sport.  At this point, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese, and it is being projected that number will rise to 42 percent by 2030.

While we are gorging ourselves with food, what else do we like to do?

That’s right – we love to watch television.  In fact, the average American watches 28 hours of television every single week.

We have become completely and totally addicted to entertainment, and we have become trained to be constantly “plugged in” to something.

Our lives have become all about constantly feeding our greed and our selfishness.  In fact, that is a major reason for the breakdown of the family in America.  We tend to view marriage as a temporary condition that can be quickly discarded when it no longer makes us happy.

Sadly, the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world by a very wide margin at this point.

In addition, more Americans than ever are putting off marriage these days.  Young Americans are being told that “an education” and “a career” are more important.  According to the Pew Research Center, only 51 percent of all American adults are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in America were married.

As a result of these factors, we are an incredibly lonely nation.  Today, the United States has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire globe.

In order to fill the void, the American people turn to things that will numb the pain.  American use more legal drugs than anyone else on the planet and they also use more illegal drugs than anyone else on the planet.

We have more “stuff” than any other society in the history of the world has ever had, but it has not made us happy.

And how did we pay for all of this?

We paid for a lot of this with debt.  In fact, we have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.

During my lifetime, the debt of the U.S. government has gotten more than 30 times larger.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “27 Things That Every American Should Know About The National Debt“.

But the federal government is not the only one with a debt problem.  The truth is that our entire society is absolutely drowning in debt.

Over the past 50 years, the total amount of debt in the U.S. has grown from less than a trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars….

We have used massive amounts of debt in an attempt to feed our endless greed and materialism and we have gotten ourselves into a whole lot of trouble.

This is one of the reasons why I write.  I want people to understand how bad things have really gotten.

Thanks to our foolishness, our economy has been declining, it is going to continue to decline, and a massive economic collapse is coming.

Some people believe that this is a message of “doom and gloom”, but that is not the case at all.

Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that somehow everything is going to be just fine is not going to do anyone any good.

Instead, I believe that warning people about the coming economic collapse is a message of hope.

There is hope in understanding what is happening, developing a plan to deal with it, and preparing yourself and your family for the storm that is coming.

It is the people that are ignoring all of the warnings that are going to be in real trouble.

Millions upon millions of people will be absolutely blindsided by what is coming.  Many will give in to total despair once they realize that their prosperity is gone and they have done nothing to prepare for what they are now facing.

My hope is that the information that I write about will be shocking enough that it will wake people up and motivate them to get prepared so that they can handle the incredibly challenging years that are ahead.

And the truth is that our lives should not be about our money and our stuff anyway.

Your possessions are just temporary.  None of them are going to last forever and you certainly cannot take them with you when you die.

Even though our economy has had some rough times, we still have a higher standard of living than 99 percent of the humans that have ever lived on this planet have had.

You would think that would be enough for us.

But it isn’t.  We have hoarded our wealth and we have lived in luxury and self-indulgence.

When our debt-fueled prosperity disappears, most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.

Most Americans will believe that their lives are “over” at that point.

But those that are not caught up in materialism and that have prepared for what is ahead will understand that the next chapters of their lives can be the greatest chapters of all.

How QE3 Will Make The Wealthy Even Wealthier While Causing Living Standards To Fall For The Rest Of Us

The mainstream media is hailing QE3 as a great victory for the U.S. economy.  On nearly every news broadcast, the “talking heads” are declaring that Ben Bernanke’s decision to pump 40 billion dollars a month into our financial system is definitely going to help solve our economic problems.  The money for QE3 is being created out of thin air and this round of quantitative easing is going to be “open-ended” which means that the Federal Reserve is going to keep doing it for as long as they feel like it.  But is this really good for the average American on the street?  No way.  Despite two previous rounds of quantitative easing, median household income has still fallen for four years in a row, the employment rate has not bounced back since the end of the last recession, and new home sales have remained near record lows.  So what have the previous rounds of quantitative easing accomplished?  Well, they have driven up the prices of financial assets.  Those that own stocks have done very well the past couple of years.  So who owns stocks?  The wealthy do.  In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.  Those that have invested in commodities have also done very nicely in recent years.  We have seen gold, silver, oil and agricultural commodities all do very well.  But that also means that average Americans are paying more for basic necessities such as food and gasoline.  So the first two rounds of quantitative easing made the wealthy even wealthier while causing living standards to fall for all the rest of us.  Is there any reason to believe that QE3 will be any different?

Of course not.

This time the Federal Reserve is focused on buying mortgage-backed securities.  Yes, the same financial garbage that helped cause the last crisis.  The Fed plans to gobble up tens of billions of dollars of that trash every month from now on.

But will the Fed pay true market value for those mortgage-backed securities?  If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

So this is going to be a huge windfall for some people, and that does not include us.

Not a single penny of this 40 billion dollars a month will go directly into our hands.  The theory is that it will “filter down” to us eventually.

But that hasn’t happened with previous rounds of quantitative easing.

So where does the money go?

A recent CNBC article discussed a very interesting report from the Bank of England about the effects of quantitative easing….

It said that the Bank of England’s policies of quantitative easing – similar to the Fed’s – had benefited mainly the wealthy.

Specifically, it said that its QE program had boosted the value of stocks and bonds by 26 percent, or about $970 billion. It said that about 40 percent of those gains went to the richest 5 percent of British households.

Many said the BOE’s easing added to social anger and unrest. Dhaval Joshi, of BCA Research wrote that  “QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it.”

Wow.

Who benefits from quantitative easing?

According to the Bank of England, it is “mainly the wealthy” who benefit.

As I noted the other day, Donald Trump said essentially the same thing when he told  CNBC the following….

“People like me will benefit from this.”

As I already discussed above, a lot of quantitative easing money gets into the financial markets where it pumps up the prices of financial assets.

But not all of it goes there.

We were told that the whole idea behind quantitative easing was that it was supposed to get banks lending again, but this has not happened.  Instead, banks are sitting on unprecedented amounts of money.  Just look at how the first two rounds of quantitative easing have caused excess reserves being held by banks to explode from close to zero to over 1.5 trillion dollars….

Of course one of the biggest problems is that the Federal Reserve is still paying banks not to lend money.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Federal Reserve is paying banks to park money with them.  So instead of risking their money by lending it out to us, the banks can just park it at the Fed and make risk-free profits for as long as they want.

Must be nice.

If the Federal Reserve really wanted banks to start lending again, all the Fed has to do is to stop paying banks not to lend money.

But of course if more than 1.5 trillion dollars suddenly started flooding into our economy (especially after you consider the multiplier effect) we would be dealing with nightmarish inflation unlike anything we have ever seen before.

So if you want to know why inflation was not even worse after QE1 and QE2 it is because more than a trillion and a half dollars is being parked with the Fed.

So did QE1 and QE2 do any good for average Americans?

Let’s go to the charts.

This first chart shows that the percentage of working age Americans with a job has stayed extremely flat since the end of the last recession.

Does it look like QE1 and QE2 made a difference to you?  I don’t see any difference….

Okay, but what about new home sales?

Did QE1 and QE2 help them?

Nope….

But the mainstream media is still buying the baloney the Fed is pushing.

The mainstream media is promising us that home sales will soon rise and that lots of new jobs are on the way.

Sadly, the truth is that things have steadily gotten worse for average Americans over the past 4 years despite all of the money printing the Fed has been doing.  If you doubt this, just read this article.

But this is all that Ben Bernanke seems to have left.  When printing money doesn’t work, his answer is to print even more money.

QE3 is likely to cause agricultural commodities and the price of oil to rise even further.

So unless you can convince your employer to give you a corresponding raise, this is going to mean that your paychecks are not going to go as far as they did before.

And so that means a lower standard of living.

In a recent article, Bruce Krasting issued an ominous warning….

Higher inflation expectations in the US will filter around the globe. Post the extraordinary steps Ben took yesterday, people will be stocking up on “stuff”. Things like rice, flour, cooking oil, soy, wheat and sugar. If you can eat it, buy it now. It will be more expensive in a month. While your at it, fill up the gas tank, the price is going up next week and every week for the next few months.

In addition, the policy of the Federal Reserve of keeping interest rates as low as possible is absolutely crippling the finances of many retirees.  Even the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, William F. Ford, recognizes this….

One of the overlooked consequences of the Federal Reserve’s recent rounds of monetary stimulus is the adverse impact those policies have had on the interest income of savers. The prolonged and abnormally low interest-rate structure put in place by the Fed has made life particularly difficult for retirees and others who depend on conservative interest-sensitive investments. But the negative effects do not stop there. They spillover into the overall performance of the economy.

Just about everything that the Federal Reserve does these days is bad for ordinary Americans.

But the Fed is not going to stop.  The Fed is addicted to money printing now, and as a recent article by Peter Schiff explained, the Fed is just going to “up the dosage” until it gets what it wants….

The Fed will try to conjure a recovery on the backs of currency debasement. It will not stop or alter from this course. If the economy fails to respond to the drugs, Bernanke will simply up the dosage. In fact, he is so convinced we will remain dependent on quantitative easing that he explicitly said he won’t turn off the spigots even if things noticeably improve.

This is complete and total incompetence by Ben Bernanke and his cohorts over at the Fed.

Economist Marc Faber believes that Ben Bernanke should resign, and I agree with him….

“If I had messed up as badly as Bernanke I would for sure resign. The mandate of the Fed to boost asset prices and thereby create wealth is ludicrous — it doesn’t work that way. It’s a temporary boost followed by a crash.”

And yes, a crash is coming.

Bernanke can try to put it off for a while, but every action he takes is just making the eventual crash even worse.

And some in the financial community clearly recognize this.  For example, credit rating agency Egan-Jones downgraded the credit rating of the United States to AA- on Friday.

The primary reason they gave for the downgrade was QE3.

Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve are destroying the U.S. dollar and destroying our financial system for a short-term economic sugar high.

It is utter insanity.

That is why we desperately need to get the American people educated about the Federal Reserve system.  It is at the very heart of our economic problems and yet neither major political party is willing to blame the Fed for the problems that it is causing.

A bunch of unelected bankers that are not accountable to the American people are running our economy into the ground and the American people do not even realize what is happening.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  Hopefully we can get the American people to understand that more money printing is definitely not the solution to our problems.

Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson And George Soros Are All Betting That Financial Disaster Is Coming

Are you willing to bet against three of the wealthiest men in the entire world?  Jacob Rothschild recently bet approximately 200 million dollars that the euro will go down.  Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson made somewhere around 20 billion dollars betting against the U.S. housing market during the last financial crisis, and now he has made huge bets that the euro will go down and that the price of gold will go up.  And as I wrote about in my last article, George Soros put approximately 130 million more dollars into gold last quarter.  So will the euro plummet like a rock?  Will the price of gold absolutely soar?  Well, if a massive financial disaster does occur both of those two things are likely to happen.  The European economy is becoming more unstable with each passing day, and investors all over the globe are looking for safe places to put their money.  The mainstream media keeps telling us that everything is going to be okay, but the global elite are sending us a much, much different message by their actions.  Certainly Rothschild, Paulson and Soros know about things happening in the financial world that the rest of us don’t.  The fact that they are all behaving in a consistent manner right now should be alarming for all of us.

Let’s start with Jacob Rothschild.  Apparently he believes that the euro is headed for quite a tumble.  The following is from a recent CNBC article….

You know the euro is in deep water when a doyen of the banking industry, Lord Jacob Rothschild takes a £130 million ($200 million) bet against it.

Okay, but the euro has already been falling dramatically.  In mid-2011, the EUR/USD was above the 1.40 mark, and right now it is at about 1.23.

Does it really have that much more that it can fall?

If the eurozone ends up breaking apart it sure does.

If there is a Greek default, or if Germany leaves the euro, or if a new currency comes along to replace the euro those currently betting against it will end up looking like geniuses.

Another big name in the financial world that is betting against the euro right now is John Paulson.  The following is from a recent Der Spiegel article….

One of these warriors is John Paulson. The hedge fund manager once made billions by betting on a collapse of the American real estate market. Not surprisingly, the financial world sat up and took notice when Paulson, who is now widely despised in America as a crisis profiteer, announced in the spring that he would bet on a collapse of the euro.

And as I noted in my last article, Paulson has also been putting billions of dollars into gold.

So just what are Rothschild and Paulson anticipating?

Could we be on the verge of a massive financial collapse in Europe?

According to the Der Spiegel article mentioned above, a lot of investors seem to be preparing for such a possibility right now….

Banks, companies and investors are preparing themselves for a collapse of the euro. Cross-border bank lending is falling, asset managers are shunning Europe and money is flowing into German real estate and bonds. The euro remains stable against the dollar because America has debt problems too. But unlike the euro, the dollar’s structure isn’t in doubt.

The financial world is starting to wake up to the fact that the globe is absolutely drowning in debt and it is not really good to be holding fiat currencies when a debt crisis erupts.

When men like John Paulson and George Soros start pouring huge amounts of money into gold, it is time to start becoming alarmed about the state of the global financial system.

The amount of money that these men are investing in gold is staggering….

There was also news last week in an SEC filing that both George Soros and John Paulson had increased their investment in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest publicly traded physical gold exchange traded fund (ETF).

Mr Soros upped his stake in the ETF to 884,400 shares from 319,550 and Mr Paulson bought 4.53m shares, bringing his stake to 21.3m.

At the current price of about $156 a share, these are new investments of about $88m of Mr Soros’ cash and more than $700m from Mr Paulson’s funds. These are significant positions.

And the central banks of the world are certainly buying gold at an unprecedented rate as well.  According to the World Gold Council, the central banks of the world added 157.5 metric tons of gold last quarter.  That was the biggest move into gold by the central banks of the globe that we have seen in modern financial history.

But that might just be the beginning.

According to a recent Marketwatch article, there are persistent rumors that China has plans to buy thousands of metric tons of gold….

Within the gold market, there is unconfirmed speculation that China plans to buy up to at least 5,000 to 6,000 metric tons of gold and that it will start to buy during this year, according to Kevin Kerr, president of Kerr Trading International.

If China buys this much gold, that would exceed annual, global production of gold, he said. “We do not have enough gold for China to buy that much, and it will take China time to purchase this amount of gold.”

So what comes next?

Nobody is quite sure.

Another major financial crisis could erupt in Europe at any moment.

A major war in the Middle East could start literally at any time.

Renowned investor Jim Rogers believes that things are really going to get “bad after the next election“.

Others believe that the action could start even sooner than that.

The truth is that even though we have not seen a “Lehman Brothers moment” yet, things in Europe just continue to get progressively worse.  The following is from a recent article by Mark E. Grant….

Whether you turn your attention to Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal or even Ireland; it is getting worse. Nowhere on the Continent are things improving and even in France and Germany the financial strains are beginning to show. It is not a question of Euro-bear or Euro-bull; it is just the numbers as they come rolling out month after month.

There is a growing realization in Europe that the euro simply does not work.  Italy is absolutely drowning in debt, the Spanish economy has basically descended into a depression, and Greece has been experiencing depression-like conditions for years at this point.

The euro is doomed.  The only question is who is going to blink first.

Nobody wants to be the first to leave the euro.  There are rumblings that it could actually be Finland that leaves the euro first, and that would please Germany just fine because they don’t want to look like the bad guys in all of this.

But that doesn’t mean that Germany won’t eventually pull the trigger if nobody else does.  The German public is sick and tired of bailing out the weak sisters of southern Europe, and at this point it looks like it would take perpetual bailouts just to keep the euro together.

And recently there have been lots of little signs that Germany is starting to move slowly toward the exit doors.

In fact, I found it quite interesting that a giant euro sculpture was recently removed from the Frankfurt International Airport….

A massive € sculpture (identical to the one in front of the European Central Bank) was dismantled and removed from the Frankfurt International Airport in Germany Thursday.

The official explanation is ‘the plastic parts are getting weak after 11 years and the terminal needed the space‘.

Does € sculpture’s removal from the Frankfurt Airport indicate Germany is preparing for a surprise return to the Deutsche Mark?

Sure that might just be a coincidence, but it also could be a harbinger of things to come.

Sadly, most average people living in North America and Europe have absolutely no idea what is coming.  Most of them just want to be able to get up in the morning and go to work and pay the bills and take care of their families.

Unfortunately, millions upon millions of those hard working individuals are in for a very rude awakening.

A lot of people are about to have their current lifestyles totally turned upside down.

But it doesn’t have to be all bad.

In fact, I found it very interesting to read about how some young people are responding to the depression in Greece….

In the spring of 2010, just as the Greek government was embarking on some of its harshest austerity measures, 29-year-old Apostolos Sianos packed in his well-paid job as a website designer, gave up his Athens apartment and walked away from modern civilisation.

In the foothills of Mount Telaithrion on the Greek island of Evia, Mr Sianos and three other like-minded Athenians set up an eco-community.

The idea was to live in an entirely sustainable way, free from the ties of money and cut off from the national electricity grid.

The group sleeps communally in yurts they have built themselves, they grow their own food and exchange the surplus in the nearest village for any necessities they cannot produce.

I think there is a lesson to be learned there.

When the system fails, it is going to be important to be able to live independently of the system.

Governments and big banks all over the world have been rapidly preparing for the coming financial collapse.

Perhaps the rest of us should be too.

If you can believe it, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.

If another major economic crisis comes along, many of those people are going to be totally wiped out.

And there are already signs that the U.S. economy is basically on life support at this point.

Just look at the velocity of money.

In an economy that is growing and healthy, money tends to circulate very, very quickly.

But when an economy is sick, money tends to circulate very slowly.

And that is exactly what is happening right now.  In fact, the velocity of money is currently at the lowest level in modern U.S. history….

For much more discussion on this, please check out this article.

This is exactly what happened back in the 1930s.  The velocity of money absolutely plummeted.  When people are scared, credit is tight and times are hard, money does not exchange hands as rapidly.

But this is just the beginning.

What we are experiencing right now is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.

Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson and George Soros are preparing themselves for the tremendous chaos that is coming.

Are you getting prepared?

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