They Are Going To Make It Nearly Impossible To Pass On A Farm Or A Business To Your Children

If you have a farm or a small business, would you like to pass it on to your children when you die?  Well, unless Congress does something, it is going to become much, much harder to do that starting next year.  Right now, there is a 5 million dollar estate tax exemption and anything above that is taxed at 35 percent.  But on January 1st, the exemption will go down to 1 million dollars and the tax rate will go up to 55 percent.  A lot of liberals are very excited about this, because they believe that the government will be soaking wealthy people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.  But the truth is that a lot of farms, ranches and small businesses will be absolutely devastated by this change in the tax law.  There are many farmers and ranchers out there today that do not make much money but are sitting on tracts of land that are worth millions of dollars.  According to the American Farm Bureau, approximately 97 percent of all farms and ranches in the United States would be subject to the estate tax if the exemption was reduced to just a million dollars.  That means that the children of these farmers and ranchers would be faced with a very cruel choice when it is time to inherit these farms and ranches.  Either they come up with enough money to pay the government about half of what the farm or ranch is worth, or they sell the farm or ranch that may have been in their family for generations.  Needless to say, most farm and ranch families do not have that kind of cash lying around.  Most of them are just barely making it from year to year.  So this change in the tax law is going to greatly accelerate the death of the family farm in America.  This is also going to devastate many family-owned small businesses.  Many small businesses don’t make much money, but they have buildings or land or assets worth millions of dollars.  Children that may have wanted to continue the family legacy will be forced to sell because of the massive tax bill that they get from Uncle Sam.  This is an insidious cruelty, and it shows just how broken our system has become.

The desire to leave the wealth that you have worked so hard to accumulate all your life to your children is something that is common to virtually all human societies.  We want to know that future generations will be taken care of.

It is simply immoral for the federal government to swoop in and tax farms, ranches and small businesses that were intended to be passed down from parents to their children at a 55 percent tax rate.

A lot of the people that are going to be affected by this change are not “wealthy” at all.  A recent Fox News report examined what this change in the law is going to mean for rancher Kevin Kester and his family…

Rancher Kevin Kester works dawn to dusk, drives a 12-year-old pick-up truck and earns less than a typical bureaucrat in Washington D.C., yet the federal government considers him rich enough to pay the estate tax — also known as the “death tax.”

Kester told Fox News that he has no doubt that his ranch will have to be sold when he dies just to pay the tax bill…

“There is no way financially my kids can pay what the IRS is going to demand from them nine months after death and keep this ranch intact for their generation and future generations,” said Kester, of the Bear Valley Ranch in Central California.

Two decades ago, Kester paid the IRS $2 million when he inherited a 22,000-acre cattle ranch from his grandfather. Come January, the tax burden on his children will be more than $13 million.

Reading that should make you angry.  Every single year, thousands upon thousands of farms, ranches and small businesses are going to be lost to the federal tax monster.

It is almost as if the federal government does not want income-producing assets to remain in the hands of the “little guy”.

What in the world are we supposed to do?

It isn’t as if all of those farmers and ranchers can go off to the big cities and find good jobs.  As I wrote about yesterday, our politicians are standing aside as millions of our good jobs are shipped out of the country.

The cold, hard truth is that our system does not work for average Americans any longer.  Those that roll out of bed every morning, work hard and never complain always seem to get the short end of the stick.

The people that are the backbone of America are the ones that the government is always the hardest on.

Unfortunately, we have gotten to a point where the government is searching for more “revenue” from anywhere it can because it desperately needs more money.  U.S. government finances are a complete and total mess and we are drowning in the biggest ocean of debt the world has ever seen.

We are more than 16 trillion dollars in debt and there are more than 100 million Americans that are enrolled in at least one welfare program.

Someday has to pay for all this.

Middle class Americans are already hit with dozens of different taxes each year, and you can be certain that our politicians will continue to invent ways to extract even more “revenue” out of us.

And of course our politicians will never stop their wild spending.  Despite all of the negotiations that have taken place over the past couple of years, our spending problems just continue to grow.  For example, the federal budget deficit for the month of October was $120 billion, which was more than 20 percent larger than the federal budget deficit for October 2011 was.

So what is the solution?

Well, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner now says that he wants to eliminate the debt ceiling entirely.  He says that we should just have no limit and that the federal government should just be able to go into debt as much as it wants.

In the end, all of this debt is going to absolutely crush us.  We have literally destroyed the future of America, and yet most of the country still seems clueless about all of this.  The blind are leading the blind, and we are headed straight for complete and utter disaster.

One day, when people look back on this period in American history, what do you think people are going to say about us?

55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America

This is the time of the year when Americans run out to their favorite retail stores and fill up their shopping carts with lots of cheap plastic crap made by workers in foreign countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  By doing this, the American people are actively participating in the destruction of the U.S. economy.  You see, buying products that are made in America is not just a matter of national pride.  It is a matter of national survival.  If we do not support American workers, they are going to continue to see their jobs shipped out of the country.  If we do not support American businesses, they are going to continue to die off at a staggering rate.  Last year, the United States had a trade deficit with the rest of the world of 558 billion dollars.  More than half a trillion dollars that could have gone into the pockets of U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went overseas instead.  If that money had stayed in the country, taxes would have been paid on that mountain of cash and our local, state and federal government debt problems would not be as severe.  As a result of our massive trade imbalance, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of national wealth.  Both major political parties have sold us out on these issues, and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day.  We desperately need a resurgence of economic patriotism in the United States before it is too late.

Yes, I know that it is very tempting to buy foreign-made products.  After all, they are almost always cheaper.

But most people don’t often think about why they are cheaper.

Unfortunately, in the name of “free trade” American workers have been merged into a global labor pool where they have to compete directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  This makes employing American workers a tremendous liability.

If a company hires you and pays you 10 to 15 dollars an hour with benefits, how is it going to compete with another company that pays workers a dollar an hour with no benefits on the other side of the planet?

Both major political parties are pushing this emerging “one world economic system“, but it is absolutely killing American jobs.  We have already seen a mass exodus of jobs and businesses out of this country, and wages for the jobs that remain in the United States are being forced down because there are hordes of unemployed workers that are willing to take just about any decent job they can find.

It has become painfully obvious that our politicians are not going to do anything to help us on these issues, so what we need is a mass awakening among the American people.

We need to educate people that buying things that are made in America is good for the economy and that buying things that are made elsewhere is bad for the economy.

But for now, most Americans are clueless.  They will line up on Black Friday morning and trample one another in a desperate attempt to save a few bucks on cheap plastic devices that were made on the other side of the planet.

And they will pay for much of this “shopping” with credit cards.

Credit card debt is on the rise once again.  In fact, average credit card debt per borrower was 4.9 percent higher in the third quarter of 2012 than it was in the third quarter of 2011.  It looks like most of us didn’t learn our lessons from the last financial crisis.

But not all Americans enjoy the shopping that is typically involved with this time of the year.  One recent survey found that approximately 45 percent of all Americans think that there is so much financial pressure associated with the holidays that they wouldn’t mind skipping them completely.

That same poll found that approximately 41 percent of all Americans would only be able to survive for two weeks without a paycheck.  Many Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt, their incomes are not keeping up with rising prices, and they find themselves scratching and clawing just to make it from month to month.

Meanwhile, we continue to destroy our own jobs and businesses by spending our money on products that have been made outside the country.

The following are 55 reasons why you should buy products that are made in America this holiday season…

1. When you buy products that are made in America you support American workers.

2. When you buy products that are made in America you support companies that are doing business in America.

3. In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.

4. The United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.

5. Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion.  That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.

6. In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990 and more than 49,000 times larger than it was back in 1985.

7. When NAFTA was passed in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars.  In 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

8. One professor has estimated that cutting the U.S. trade deficit in half would create 5 million more jobs in the United States.

9. Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the globe since 1975.  That 8 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. businesses and pay the wages of U.S. workers.  Federal, state and local taxes would also have been paid on that 8 trillion dollars if it had stayed in the United States.

10. According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

11. The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

12. According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, the United States has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities a day over the last 10 years.

13. During 2010 alone, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities permanently shut down in the United States every single day.

14. Overall, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

15. The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

16. Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

17. As I have written about previously, 95 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were middle class jobs.

18. Due in part to the globalization of the labor pool, only about 24 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs” at this point.

19. Right now, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans do not have a job, and the vast majority of the new jobs that are being created are low paying jobs.

20. The United States now has 10 percent fewer “middle class jobs” than it did just ten years ago.

21. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every $1 billion of goods that are imported from overseas.

22. As our economic infrastructure is gutted, formerly great manufacturing cities all over America are being transformed into festering hellholes.

23. Between 2001 and 2007, the value of products that Wal-Mart imported from China grew from $9 billion to $27 billion.

24. In 2001, American consumers spent 102 billion dollars on products made in China.  In 2011, American consumers spent 399 billion dollars on products made in China.

25. The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

26. Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China’s high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.

27. In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world.  In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.

28. The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.

29. Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry was actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

30. The Chinese undervalue their currency by about 40 percent in order to gain a critical advantage over foreign competitors.  This means that many Chinese companies are able to absolutely thrive while their competition in the United States goes out of business.

31. According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China thanks to all the tariffs.

32. In 2010, China produced more than twice as many automobiles as the United States did.

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

34. Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe?  Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts of $110 billion.

35. In 2010, South Korea exported 12 times as many automobiles, trucks and parts to us as we exported to them.

36. In 2010, China produced 627 million metric tons of steel.  The United States only produced 80 million metric tons of steel.

37. In 2010, China produced 7.3 million metric tons of cotton.  The United States only produced 3.4 million metric tons of cotton.

38. Today, China produces nearly twice as much beer as the United States does.

39. 85 percent of all artificial Christmas trees are made in China.

40. Right now, China is producing more than three times as much coal as the United States does.

41. China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.  How stupid can we possibly be?

42. According to author Clyde Prestowitz, China’s number one export to the U.S. is computer equipment.  According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, during 2010 the number one U.S. export to China was “scrap and trash”.

43. All over the United States, road and bridge projects are being outsourced to Chinese firms.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent ABC News article….

In New York there is a $400 million renovation project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.

In California, there is a $7.2 billion project to rebuild the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.

In Alaska, there is a proposal for a $190 million bridge project.

These projects sound like steps in the right direction, but much of the work is going to Chinese government-owned firms.

“When we subsidize jobs in China, we’re not creating any wealth in the United States,” said Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

44. The new World Trade Center tower is going to include glass that has been imported from China.

45. The new Martin Luther King memorial on the National Mall was made in China.

46. The Chinese economy has grown 7 times faster than the U.S. economy has over the past decade.

47. The Chinese economy is projected to be larger than the U.S. economy by 2016.

48. One economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

49. In recent years the U.S. economy has embraced “free trade” and the emerging one world economy like never before.  Instead of increasing the number of jobs in our economy, it has resulted in the worst stretch of job creation in the United States in modern history….

If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.

50. If you gathered together all of the workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States today, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.

51. China now holds approximately more than a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.  If you were alive back when Jesus was born and you had spent a million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent that much money by now.

52. Jeffrey Immelt, the head of Barack Obama’s highly touted “Jobs Council”, has shipped tens of thousands of good jobs out of the United States.

53. Without enough good jobs, more Americans than ever before are falling into poverty.  Today, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.

54. According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.

55. If U.S. consumers do not start supporting U.S. workers and U.S. businesses, eventually we will all be so poor that very few of us will be able to afford to buy any gifts during the holiday season.

17 Reasons Why Those Hoping For A Recession In 2012 Just Got Their Wish

If you were hoping for a recession in 2012, then you are going to be very happy with the numbers you are about to see.  The U.S. economy is heading downhill just in time for the 2012 election.  Retail sales have fallen for three months in a row for the first time since 2008, manufacturing activity is dropping like a rock, sales of new homes are declining again, consumer confidence has moved significantly lower and a depressingly small percentage of businesses anticipate hiring more workers in the coming months.  Even though the Federal Reserve has been wildly pumping money into the financial system and even though the federal government has been injecting gigantic piles of borrowed cash into the economy, we still haven’t seen an economic recovery.  In fact, we appear to be on the verge of yet another major downturn.  In California the other night, Barack Obama told supporters that “we tried our plan — and it worked“, but only those that are still drinking the Obama kool-aid would believe something so preposterous.  The truth is that the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for many years and now we have reached another very painful recession.

And don’t let the second quarter GDP number on Friday fool you.  Analysts are expecting to see GDP growth of about 1.4 percent for the second quarter, but the only reason for our very small amount of “economic growth” is because the economy has been flooded with new dollars.

Let me give you an example.  If I could go out overnight and magically double the bank accounts of every single American, would we all be twice as wealthy?

No, because there would be twice as many dollars now chasing the same amount of goods and services.  The price of those goods and services would soon rise dramatically to reflect this new reality.

With all of those new dollars spinning around in the economy it would look like “economic growth” was going through the roof, but in reality the amount of real economic activity would be about the same.

So whenever we talk about GDP, we need to properly adjust it for inflation.  That means using accurate inflation figures and not the highly manipulated inflation figures that the U.S. government is putting out these days.

And as I noted the other day, after properly adjusting for inflation the U.S. economy has been continually experiencing negative economic growth since about 2005.

So let’s not deceive ourselves.  The U.S. economy has been declining for a long time.

But soon even the GDP number that the government gives us will turn negative.  We will probably see a slightly positive number for the second quarter, and the number will likely go negative either in the third quarter or the fourth quarter.

Economists will debate when this new recession officially “began” just like they do with every recession, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is happening to our economy right now.

The following are 17 reasons why those hoping for a recession in 2012 just got their wish….

1. U.S. retail sales have declined for three months in a row.  This is the first time this has happened since 2008.  Every other time this has happened in U.S. history (except for once) this has signaled that the U.S. economy was either already in a recession or was about to enter one.

2. The Philadelphia Fed index of manufacturing activity contracted for the third month in a row during July.  According to the Financial Post, this is a very bad sign….

Seven out of eight times when the average reading has been that low (-11.8) for that long the U.S. economy has tipped into recession.

3. Manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region has also declined for three months in a row.  In fact, the only time in the past decade when manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic has fallen more dramatically was during the last recession.

4. A factory index calculated by the Institute for Supply Management has fallen to its lowest level since June 2009.

5. The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators has fallen for two of the past three months.

6. According to a recent survey conducted by the Conference Board, only 17 percent of CEOs had a positive view of the economy during the second quarter of 2012.  During the first quarter of 2012, 67 percent did.

7. Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is now the lowest that it has been since January.

8. Optimism among small business owners has declined in three of the last four months and is now at its lowest level since last October.

9. Believe it or not, the amount of waste being carted around on trains in the United States has an 82 percent correlation with U.S. economic growth.  Unfortunately, right now the number of garbage carloads on trains is falling dramatically.

10. Sales of previously occupied homes dropped by 5.4 percent during June.

11. Sales of new homes declined by 8.4 percent during June.  At this point new home sales are less than a third of what they were during the boom years.

12. An increasing number of Americans are relying on high interest “payday loans” to pay the rent and put food on the table.

13. Far more companies are defaulting on their debts this year than last year.

14. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the unemployment rate fell in 11 states and Washington, D.C. last month, but it rose in 27 states.

15. The unemployment rate in New York City is now back up to 10 percent.  That equals the peak unemployment rate in New York City during the last recession.

16. The teen unemployment rate in Washington D.C. right now is 51.7 percent.

17. A recent survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics found that only 23 percent of all U.S. companies plan to hire more workers over the next 6 months.  When the same question was asked a few months ago that number was at 39 percent.

All of those are very powerful pieces of evidence that a new recession has started.

But do you want to know one of my favorite indicators that the U.S. economy is sliding into recession?

In a previous article, I noted that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made the following statement to Congress recently: “At this point we don’t see a double dip recession. We see continued moderate growth.”

As I mentioned the other day, Bernanke has a track record of failure that is absolutely embarrassing.  Back on January 10, 2008 Bernanke made the following statement….

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

That turned out to be a great call, didn’t it?

On June 10, 2008 he doubled down on his call that the U.S. economy was going to avoid a recession….

“The risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished over the past month or so.”

Just before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed Bernanke made this statement….

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

And there are dozens of other examples just like these.

This is the guy running our economic system.

I am very critical of the Federal Reserve, but there are very good reasons for this.

The Federal Reserve is running our economy into the ground, and we need to pound this into the heads of the American people so that they will wake up and demand change.

Perhaps this next recession will be painful enough to wake people up.

The Wall Street Journal is already even using the “D word” to describe what we are experiencing.  Just today, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that asked this question: “Do Two Recessions Equal One Depression?

Sadly, this is just the leading edge of what is coming.  By the time 2014 or 2015 rolls around, we are going to look back and long for the “good old days” of 2011 and 2012.

Over the next few years, the unemployment rate is going to skyrocket and poverty in the United States is going to get a whole lot worse.

Now is not the time to goof off.  Now is the time to work really hard to get yourself and your family into the best position that you can for the storm that is coming.

Nothing is going to stop the terrible economic crisis that is coming, but at least we can get prepared for it.

There is hope in being prepared.

Sadly, most people will never even see the next crisis coming until they get blindsided by it.

A Cashless Society May Be Closer Than Most People Would Ever Dare To Imagine

Most people think of a cashless society as something that is way off in the distant future.  Unfortunately, that is simply not the case.  The truth is that a cashless society is much closer than most people would ever dare to imagine.  To a large degree, the transition to a cashless society is being done voluntarily.  Today, only 7 percent of all transactions in the United States are done with cash, and most of those transactions involve very small amounts of money.  Just think about it for a moment.  Where do you still use cash these days?  If you buy a burger or if you purchase something at a flea market you will still use cash, but for any mid-size or large transaction the vast majority of people out there will use another form of payment.  Our financial system is dramatically changing, and cash is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  We live in a digital world, and national governments and big banks are both encouraging the move away from paper currency and coins.  But what would a cashless society mean for our future?  Are there any dangers to such a system?

Those are very important questions, but most of the time both sides of the issue are not presented in a balanced way in the mainstream media.  Instead, most mainstream news articles tend to trash cash and talk about how wonderful digital currency is.

For example, a recent CBS News article declared that soon we may not need “that raggedy dollar bill” any longer and that the “greenback may soon be a goner”….

It’s what the wallet was invented for, to carry cash. After all, there was a time when we needed cash everywhere we went, from filling stations to pay phones. Even the tooth fairy dealt only in cash.

But money isn’t just physical anymore. It’s not only the pennies in your piggy bank, or that raggedy dollar bill.

Money is also digital – it’s zeros and ones stored in a computer, prompting some economists to predict the old-fashioned greenback may soon be a goner.

“There will be a time – I don’t know when, I can’t give you a date – when physical money is just going to cease to exist,” said economist Robert Reich.

So will we see a completely cashless society in the near future?

Of course not.  It would be wildly unpopular for the governments of the world to force such a system upon us all at once.

Instead, the big banks and the governments of the industrialized world are doing all they can to get us to voluntarily transition to such a system.  Once 98 or 99 percent of all transactions do not involve cash, eliminating the remaining 1 or 2 percent will only seem natural.

The big banks want a cashless society because it is much more profitable for them.

The big banks earn billions of dollars in fees from debit cards and they make absolutely enormous profits from credit cards.

But when people use cash the big banks do not earn anything.

So obviously the big banks and the big credit card companies are big cheerleaders for a cashless society.

Most governments around the world are eager to transition to a cashless society as well for the following reasons….

-Cash is expensive to print, inspect, move, store and guard.

-Counterfeiting is always going to be a problem as long as paper currency exists.

-Cash if favored by criminals because it does not leave a paper trail.  Eliminating cash would make it much more difficult for drug dealers, prostitutes and other criminals to do business.

-Most of all, a cashless society would give governments more control.  Governments would be able to track virtually all transactions and would also be able to monitor tax compliance much more closely.

When you understand the factors listed above, it becomes easier to understand why the use of cash is increasingly becoming demonized.  Governments around the world are increasingly viewing the use of cash in a negative light.  In fact, according to the U.S. government paying with cash in some circumstances is now considered to be “suspicious activity” that needs to be reported to the authorities.

This disdain of cash has also grown very strong in the financial community.  The following is from a recent Slate article….

David Birch, a director at Consult Hyperion, a firm specializing in electronic payments, says a shift to digital currency would cut out these hidden costs. In Birch’s ideal world, paying with cash would be viewed like drunk driving—something we do with decreasing frequency as more and more people understand the negative social consequences. “We’re trying to use industrial age money to support commerce in a post-industrial age. It just doesn’t work,” he says. “Sooner or later, the tectonic plates shift and then, very quickly, you’ll find yourself in this new environment where if you ask somebody to pay you in cash, you’ll just assume that they’re a prostitute or a Somali pirate.”

Do you see what is happening?

Simply using cash is enough to get you branded as a potential criminal these days.

Many people are going to be scared away from using cash simply because of the stigma that is becoming attached to it.

This is a trend that is not just happening in the United States.  In fact, many other countries are further down the road toward a cashless society than we are.

Up in Canada, they are looking for ways to even eliminate coins so that people can use alternate forms of payment for all of their transactions….

The Royal Canadian Mint is also looking to the future with the MintChip, a new product that could become a digital replacement for coins.

In Sweden, only about 3 percent of all transactions still involve cash.  The following comes from a recent Washington Post article….

In most Swedish cities, public buses don’t accept cash; tickets are prepaid or purchased with a cell phone text message. A small but growing number of businesses only take cards, and some bank offices — which make money on electronic transactions — have stopped handling cash altogether.

“There are towns where it isn’t at all possible anymore to enter a bank and use cash,” complains Curt Persson, chairman of Sweden’s National Pensioners’ Organization.

In Italy, all very large cash transactions have been banned.  Previously, the limit for using cash in a transaction had been reduced to the equivalent of just a few thousand dollars.  But back in December, Prime Minister Mario Monti proposed a new limit of approximately $1,300 for cash transactions.

And that is how many governments will transition to a cashless society.  They will set a ceiling and then they will keep lowering it and lowering it.

But is a cashless society really secure?

Of course not.

Bank accounts can be hacked into.  Credit cards and debit cards can be stolen.  Identity theft all over the world is absolutely soaring.

So companies all over the planet are working feverishly to make all of these cashless systems much more secure.

In the future, it is inevitable that national governments and big financial institutions will want to have all of us transition over to using biometric identity systems in order to combat crime in the financial system.

Many of these biometric identity systems are becoming quite advanced.

For example, just check out what IBM has been developing.  The following is from a recent IBM press release….

You will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins. Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet.

Each person has a unique biological identity and behind all that is data. Biometric data – facial definitions, retinal scans and voice files – will be composited through software to build your DNA unique online password.

Referred to as multi-factor biometrics, smarter systems will be able to use this information in real-time to make sure whenever someone is attempting to access your information, it matches your unique biometric profile and the attempt is authorized.

Are you ready for that?

It is coming.

In the future, if you do not surrender your biometric identity information, you may be locked out of the entire financial system.

Another method that can be used to make financial identification more secure is to use implantable RFID microchips.

Yes, there is a lot of resistance to this idea, but the fact is that the use of RFID chips in animals and in humans is rapidly spreading.

Some U.S. cities have already made it mandatory to implant microchips into all cats and all dogs so that they can be tracked.

All over the United States, employees are being required to carry badges that contain RFID chips, and in some instances employers are actually requiring employees to have RFID chips injected into their bodies.

Increasingly, RFID chips are being implanted in the upper arm of patients that have Alzheimer’s disease.  The idea is that this helps health care providers track Alzheimer’s patients that get lost.

In some countries, microchips are now actually being embedded into school uniforms to make sure that students don’t skip school.

Can you see where all of this is headed?

Some companies are even developing RFID technologies that do not require an injection.

One company called Somark has developed chipless RFID ink that is applied directly to the skin of an animal or a human.  These “RFID tattoos” are applied in about 10 seconds using micro-needles and a reusable applicator, and they can be read by an RFID reader from up to four feet away.

Would you get an “RFID tattoo” if the government or your bank asked you to?

Some people out there are actually quite excited about these new technologies.

For example, a columnist named Don Tennant wrote an article entitled “Chip Me – Please!” in which he expressed his unbridled enthusiasm for an implantable microchip which would contain all of his medical information….

“All I can say is I’d be the first person in line for an implant.”

But are there real dangers to going to a system that is entirely digital?

For example, what if a devastating EMP attack wiped out our electrical grid and most of our computers from coast to coast?

How would we continue to function?

Sadly, most people don’t think about things like that.

Our world is changing more rapidly than ever before, and we should be mindful of where these changes are taking us.

Just because our technology is advancing does not mean that our world is becoming a better place.

There are millions of Americans that want absolutely nothing to do with biometric identity systems or RFID implants.

But the mainstream media continues to declare that nothing can stop the changes that are coming.  A recent CBS News article made the following statement….

“Most agree a cashless society is not only inevitable, for most of us, it’s already here.”

Yes, a cashless society is coming.

Are you ready for it?

12 Facts About Money And Congress That Are So Outrageous That It Is Hard To Believe That They Are Actually True

Do you want to get rich?  Just get elected to Congress.  The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are absolutely packed with wealthy people that are very rapidly becoming even wealthier.  The collective net worth of the members of Congress is now measured in the billions of dollars.  The people that we have elected to the House and Senate are absolutely swimming in money.  Unfortunately, it is not easy to get elected to Congress.  In this day and age you generally have to be heavily connected to those that are very wealthy to get into Congress because it takes gigantic amounts of cash to win campaigns.  But if you can get in to the club, you pretty much have it made.  The numbers that you are about to read are very difficult to believe and they should deeply sadden you.  They show that Congress has become all about money.  Congressional races are mostly financed by wealthy people, most of the people that we elect to Congress are very wealthy, and they rapidly get wealthier after they are elected.  All of this money has turned our republic into something far different than our founding fathers intended.

The following are 12 statistics about money and Congress that are so outrageous that it is hard to believe that they are actually true….

#1 The collective net worth of all of the members of Congress increased by 25 percent between 2008 and 2010.

#2 The collective net worth of all of the members of Congress is now slightly over 2 billion dollars.  That is “billion” with a “b”.

#3 This happened during a time when the net worth of most American households was declining rapidly.  According to the Federal Reserve, the collective net worth of all American households decreased by 23 percent between 2007 and 2009.

#4 The average net worth for a member of Congress is now approximately 3.8 million dollars.

#5 The net worth of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi increased by 62 percent from 2009 to 2010.  In 2009 it was reported that she had a net worth of 21.7 million dollars, and in 2010 it was reported that she had a net worth of 35.2 million dollars.

#6 The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, saw his wealth grow by 29 percent from 2009 to 2010.  He is now worth approximately 9.8 million dollars.

#7 More than 50 percent of the members of the U.S. Congress are millionaires.

#8 In 2008, the average cost of winning a seat in the House of Representatives was $1.1 million and the average cost of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate was $6.5 million.  Spending on political campaigns has gotten way out of control.

#9 Insider trading is perfectly legal for members of the U.S. Congress – and they refuse to pass a law that would change that.

#10 The percentage of millionaires in Congress is more than 50 times higher than the percentage of millionaires in the general population.

#11 U.S. Representative Darrell Issa is worth approximately 220 million dollars.  His wealth grew by approximately 37 percent from 2009 to 2010.

#12 The wealthiest member of Congress, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, is worth approximately 294 million dollars.

So how are members of Congress becoming so wealthy?

Well, there are lots of ways they are raking in the cash, but one especially alarming thing that goes on is that members of Congress often make investments in companies that will go up significantly if legislation that is being considered by Congress “goes the right way”.

This is called a “conflict of interest”, but it happens constantly in Congress and nobody seems to get into any trouble for it.

The following is video of Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes ambushing Nancy Pelosi about one particular conflict of interest involving credit card legislation.  As you can see, she does not want to talk about it….

As noted above, insider trading is perfectly legal for members of Congress.

A law that would ban insider trading by members of Congress has been stalled for years on Capitol Hill.

So has this been a significant benefit to members of Congress?

Well, there has been at least one study that appears to indicate that members of Congress have been much more successful in the stock market than members of the general public have….

A 2004 study of the results of stock trading by United States Senators during the 1990s found that that senators on average beat the market by 12% a year. In sharp contrast, U.S. households on average underperformed the market by 1.4% a year and even corporate insiders on average beat the market by only about 6% a year during that period. A reasonable inference is that some Senators had access to – and were using – material nonpublic information about the companies in whose stock they trade.

Of course all of this could just be a coincidence, right?

Meanwhile, members of Congress keep telling the rest of us that we are just going to have to cut back because times are tough.

For example, during an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Nancy Pelosi actually claimed that we should try to encourage poor people to have less children because it costs the government so much money to take care of them….

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those – one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

This elitist attitude extends all the way into the White House as well.  Earlier this year, Barack Obama made the following statement….

“If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, or you might put off a vacation.”

Meanwhile, the Obamas are living the high life at taxpayer expense.  In a previous article I mentioned one outrageously expensive vacation taken by the Obamas that was paid for by our taxes….

“Back in August, Michelle Obama took her daughter Sasha and 40 of her friends for a vacation in Spain.

So what was the bill to the taxpayers for that little jaunt across the pond?

It is estimated that vacation alone cost U.S. taxpayers $375,000.”

There is a massive disconnect between what our politicians say and what our politicians do.

The high life is good enough for them, but the rest of us have got to “cut back” and suffer becomes times are hard.

But when it comes to money and Congress, the most corrupting influence of all is probably all of the campaign money that gets thrown around.

In America today, it takes gigantic mountains of money to run a successful campaign.

Sadly, the candidate that raises the most money almost always wins.  In federal elections the candidate that raises the most money wins about 90 percent of the time.

More than 5 billion dollars were spent on political campaigns back in 2008.

That represents a huge number of favors that need to be paid back.

In 2012, it is being projected that 8 billion dollars could be spent on political campaigns.

When big corporations and wealthy individuals shovel huge piles of money into political campaigns, it is generally because they expect something in return.

Most of those that get sent to Congress realize that they never would have won if wealthy donors had not showered cash on them.  Most of them understand that they should not bite the hands that feed them if they want the cash to keep rolling in.

Politics in America has become a game that is played by the elite for the benefit of the elite.

Average Americans have the perception that they are involved in the process and that their opinions really matter, but mostly it is just an illusion.

It is so sad.

Meanwhile, members of Congress rapidly get wealthier and average American families continue to suffer.  In fact, the standard of living in the United States has fallen farther over the past three years than at any other time that has ever been recorded in U.S. history.

But for members of Congress the good times just keep on rolling.

Just as it has been for most of human history, the rich rule over the poor.

Does anyone out there believe that we have any hope of changing this?

Wal-Mart Says “Serious” Inflation Is Coming

Thank you Ben Bernanke for all the money printing.  Thanks to a massive injection of cash into the financial system by the Federal Reserve and other central banks, the price of almost every major commodity has skyrocketed over the past six months.  Now those price increases are starting to filter down to the retail level.  During a recent meeting with USA TODAY’s editorial board, Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon said that rising inflation in the United States is “going to be serious” and that Wal-Mart is “seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate.”  For many years Wal-Mart has been famous for their “low prices”, so for the head of Wal-Mart to publicly warn that much higher prices are coming is more than a little alarming.  There are millions of American families that are already drowning in debt, that can barely pay their mortgages and that are struggling to put food on the table for their families.  So what is going to happen to the U.S. economy when prices start rising substantially at places such as Wal-Mart?

But Wal-Mart is not the only major corporation that says that inflation is coming.  Hershey has just announced price increases of about 10 percent on their entire line of products.

So if you like chocolate you better start stocking up now.

Cocoa production is being seriously threatened by the political unrest in Africa right now.  The recent chaos in the Ivory Coast is certainly not good news for Hershey, but the truth is that all of the long-term trends indicate that prices for commodities such as cocoa, coffee and sugar are going to move up anyway.

In fact, Aaron Smith, the managing director of Superfund Financial, believes that coffee, sugar and cocoa will all be five to ten times more expensive by 2014 than they are today.

So if you are addicted to coffee or to sugar you might want to start making your plans accordingly.

But the truth is that inflation is not limited to just a few commodities.  Virtually every major agricultural commodity has soared in price over the past 6 months to a year.

So what is causing all of this?

Well, there are several factors which are major contributors.

First of all, overall global demand continues to increase.  The population of the world continues to grow, and as the economies of nations such as China and India develop, millions more people want to enjoy luxury items such as chocolate and coffee just like Americans do.

Secondly, all over the world central banks have been recklessly printing money in an attempt to stimulate their economies, but this is also going to end up causing tremendous inflation.

So how does that work?

Well, it is actually very simple.

For example, in the United States when there are more dollars chasing the same number of goods and services, what is going to happen?

Prices are going to rise of course.

And we are seeing this happen all over the world right now.

Thirdly, as the price of oil continues to rise, it is going to increase the cost of everything else.  The era of massive amounts of cheap food being transported around the world using massive quantities of cheap oil is rapidly coming to an end.

The following chart if from the Federal Reserve.  It shows that the price of oil is rapidly moving back to the level it was at prior to the financial crisis of 2008.  In fact, this chart is slightly out of date.  At last check, the price of oil was over $107 a barrel.  So what is it going to mean for our economy if we soon surpass the record that was set back in 2008?….

Fourthly, global instability is also going to cause prices to continue to rise.  Over the past year we have had really bizarre weather all over the globe, we have seen revolutions erupt all over Africa and the Middle East and the third largest economy in the world (Japan) just experienced the worst disaster that they have been through since World War 2 ended.

When things are unstable, economies don’t work as efficiently.  That means that less goods and services are produced.

But when there are less goods and services being chased by an increasing amount of money that tends to push prices up.

The truth is that inflation is here, and if the CEO of Wal-Mart is right, it is not going to go away any time soon.

In fact, many believe that the world is on the verge of another major economic crisis.

If you stop and think about it, every major region of the world is dealing with very serious problems right now.

Right now, the European debt crisis is worse than it ever has been before.  Did you notice that Standard & Poor’s just downgraded Portugal’s debt for the second time in a week?  Now Portuguese debt is rated BBB-, which is only one level above junk status.

That is a very alarming sign.

Asia is dealing with the Japanese crisis, nearly all of the countries in the Middle East are dealing with protests or full-blown revolutions, Africa is dealing with the war in Libya and quite a few revolutions of their own, and the U.S. is still deeply struggling with a whole host of economic problems.

Most Americans don’t realize just how precarious things are at the moment for the global economy.  The financial crash of 2008 did a lot of lasting damage, and the next wave of the financial crisis could potentially be even worse.  Unfortunately, the global financial system is more vulnerable than ever right now.

So what are the Federal Reserve and other central banks going to do the next time a major financial crisis happens?

They are going to print even larger quantities of money and they are going to give even larger bailouts to their friends of course.

The dollars that you have today are never going to be more valuable than they are right now.  Don’t wait too long to use them.  If you have a huge pile of dollars sitting in the bank your wealth is slowly but surely rotting away.

Very hard economic times are coming.  The inflation that the CEO of Wal-Mart is warning about is only the beginning.  Eventually we are going to see inflation in this country that is going to be absolutely mind blowing.

But don’t wait until the storm hits to start preparing.  We all have time now to prepare, so let us be wise and make the most of it.

The Death Of Cash? All Over The World Governments Are Banning Large Cash Transactions

Are we witnessing the slow but certain death of cash in this generation?  Is a truly cashless society on the horizon?  Legislation currently pending in the Mexican legislature would ban a vast array of large cash transactions, but the truth is that Mexico is far from alone in trying to restrict cash. All over the world, governments are either placing stringent reporting requirements on large cash transactions or they are banning them altogether. We are being told that such measures are needed to battle illegal drug traffic, to catch tax evaders and to fight the war on terror. But are we rapidly getting to the point where we will have no financial privacy left whatsoever? Should we just accept that we have entered a time when the government will watch, track and trace all financial transactions? Is it inevitable that at some point in the near future ALL transactions will go through the banking system in one form or another (check, credit card, debit card, etc.)?

The truth is that we now live at a time when people who use large amounts of cash are looked upon with suspicion. In fact, authorities in many countries are taught that anyone involved in a large expenditure of cash is trying to hide something and is probably a criminal.

And yes, a lot of criminals do use cash, but millions upon millions of normal, law-abiding citizens simply prefer to use cash as well.  Should we take the freedom to use cash away from the rest of us just because a small minority abuses it?

Unfortunately, the freedom to use cash is being slowly stripped away from us in an increasingly large number of countries.

In fact, as countries like Mexico “tighten the noose” around big-ticket cash purchases, our freedom to use cash is going to erode rather rapidly.

The following is a summary of some of the very tight restrictions being placed on large cash transactions around the globe right now….

Mexico

In Mexico, a bill before the legislature would completely ban the purchase of real estate in cash.  In addition, the new law would ban anyone from spending more than MXN 100,000 (about $7,700) in cash on vehicles, boats, airplanes and luxury goods.

$7,700 is not a very high limit, and this legislation has some real teeth to it.  Anyone violating this law would face up to 15 years in prison.

Greece

In Europe, some of the “austerity packages” being introduced in various European nations include very severe restrictions on the use of cash.

In Greece, all cash transactions above 1,500 euros are being banned starting next year.  The following is a comment by Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou at a press conference discussing the new austerity measures as reported by Reuters….

“From 1. Jan. 2011, every transaction above 1,500 euros between natural persons and businesses, or between businesses, will not be considered legal if it is done in cash. Transactions will have to be done through debit or credit cards”

Italy

Even Italy has gotten into the act.  As part of Italy’s new “austerity measures”, all cash transactions over 5,000 euros will be banned.  It is said this is being done to crack down on tax evasion, but even if this is being done to take down the mafia this is still quite severe.

The United States

The U.S. government has not banned any large cash transactions, and hopefully it will not do so any time soon, but it sure has burdened large cash transactions with some heavy-duty reporting requirements.

For example, your bank is required to file a currency transaction report with the government for every deposit, withdrawal or exchange over $10,000 in cash.

Not only that, but if a bank “knows, suspects, or has reason to suspect” that a transaction involving at least $5,000 is “suspicious”, then another report must be filled out.   This second type of report is known as a suspicious activity report, and it is also filed with the government.

But the reporting does not stop there.  As Jeff Schnepper explained in an article for MSN Money, if you are in business and you receive over $10,000 in cash in a single transaction you must report it to the IRS or you will go to prison…..

If you’re in a business and receive more than $10,000 in cash from a single transaction, or from related transactions within a 12-month period, you have to file Form 8300 and report the buyer to the IRS. Don’t file, and you go to jail.

The IRS isnt kidding. I had a client who was a dealer in Corvette sports cars. He told me he didnt have time to file the forms. I told him several times to file. He thought he knew better. He went to jail. So did his children who were involved in the business.

This is very, very serious.

Just because someone forgets to file a certain form with the IRS, that person can go do serious jail time?

Yes.

According to Schnepper, quite a few Americans have already received very substantial sentences for this kind of thing….

In fiscal 2004, the Internal Revenue Service initiated 1,789 criminal investigations. There were 1,304 indictments and 687 convictions — and an 89.1% incarceration rate. The average sentence: 63 months.

In fiscal 2005, the IRS started 4,269 investigations, winning 2,406 indictments and 2,151 convictions and an 83% incarceration rate. Average sentence: 42 months.

The reality is that governments around the world are getting very, very sensitive about large amounts of cash and they are not messing around.

They don’t want all of us running around with big piles of cash.  They want our money in the banks where they can track it, trace it and keep a close eye on it.

On the one hand, it is a good thing to catch criminals and terrorists, but on the other hand how much privacy and freedom are we willing to lose just so that we can feel a little safer?

And as cash becomes criminalized, are all of us going to be forced into the banking system whether we like it or not?  If we cannot pay for things in cash, what other choices are we going to have?

The truth is that the more you think about this issue, the more disturbing it becomes. 

So what do you think about all of this?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

The Economic Collapse