79 Percent Of American Voters Say They Think The U.S. Economy Could Collapse – And They Are Absolutely Right

An overwhelming majority of American voters now believe that the United States could experience a total economic collapse.  According to the latest Fox News poll, 79 percent of U.S. voters believe “it’s possible the nation’s economy could collapse”, and the poll found that this belief in the fragility of the American economy cuts across the entire political spectrum.  The truth is that the American people, at least on some level, know that a day of reckoning is at hand.  For decades, America has been enjoying the biggest party in the history of the world, but unfortunately that party was fueled by a gigantic mountain of debt, and now the bills are starting to come due.  Unfortunately for those trying to do something about this economic mess, the American people are starting to realize that the U.S. economy is now basically a house of cards, and that could lead to massive financial panic when things really start to fall apart.

Normally when a poll is taken, you can see big differences in the responses based on the party affiliation of those being surveyed.  But in this poll everyone seems to agree – the U.S. economy could experience a complete and total collapse.

Not only did the poll find that 84 percent of Republicans believe the U.S. economy could fall apart, 80 percent of Independents did as well, as did 72 percent of Democrats.

Only 18 percent of the respondents to the survey believed that the economy is “so big and strong it could never collapse.”

It is very rare these days when a large majority of the American people will agree on something.

But unfortunately, they are completely and totally correct.

The U.S. economy is in a death spiral.

So how in the world did we get here?

The answer can be summed up in one word.

Debt.

The United States has piled up household, corporate and government debt at a pace that is mind blowing.

Once upon a time, the United States was the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.

But that was not enough for us.

We had to have more.

So we went out and squandered the wealth of this nation but that wasn’t enough either.

So we started spending hundreds of billions and then trillions of dollars that belong to future generations.

All of this to fuel the greatest party the world has ever seen.

And it has been a great party.

But you can turn out the lights because the party is almost over.

It is very easy to blame the U.S. government for getting into so much debt, but they are not the only ones who have been piling up debt at an insane pace.

In fact, millions of individual Americans have been living beyond their means for decades.  Just check out the chart below which shows the growth of household debt since the mid-1960s….

Now tens of millions of Americans are massively overextended and are crying to the U.S. government for help.  But nobody forced them to get mortgages that they couldn’t afford.  Nobody forced them to max out their credit cards.  Nobody forced them to fill up their garages with luxury vehicles.

In large part, we did this to ourselves.  U.S. credit card debt per household only crossed the $1,000 threshold in the mid-1980s.  Now it is over $8,000 per household….

But the corporate world should shoulder plenty of the blame as well.  Corporate debt has been exploding at an exponential rate while profits have remained relatively flat.  There is no way that this ratio of corporate debt to profits is sustainable….

And of course the biggest culprit of all is the U.S. government.  They have piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, but are we not at fault for continuing to elect leaders who keep putting us into so much debt?  However, there are some signs that the American people are starting to wake up about this.  According to the Fox News poll, by a nearly three-to-one margin, voters believe that the national debt (65 percent) is a greater threat to America’s future than terrorism is (23 percent).

So will this change anything when the next elections come around?

We will see.

Meanwhile, the damage has already been done.  The U.S. Congress recently approved an increase in the federal government debt cap to 14.3 trillion dollars.  In 2010, the United States government is projected to issue almost as much new debt as the rest of the governments of the world combined.  Thanks to the horrifyingly bad management of our finances by our nation’s leaders, the legacy that we are leaving to future generations is the biggest mountain of debt that humanity has ever seen….

Unfortunately, instead of learning from the past and trying to reduce debt, the U.S. government just keeps spending money and piling up debt faster and faster.

But if they stop all of this reckless spending the U.S. economy could plunge right into a depression of unprecedented magnitude and pretty much everyone would be voted out of office.

But if they keep on with all of this reckless spending the long-term consequences will be catastrophic beyond anything that any of us can even imagine.

Either way, this thing is going to end really, really badly.

Whether you want to face it or not, there is no economic future for the United States under the current system.

Enjoy things while they are still relatively good, because this is as good as things are going to get.  Incredibly hard times are coming and we all need to start getting ready.

Virginia Hands Out 6996 Traffic Tickets In One Weekend In An Effort To Raise Revenue For The State Government

In the old days, police officers wrote traffic tickers primarily to keep people safe and to prevent citizens from breaking the traffic laws.  But in the new Amerika, all of that has changed.  Now traffic tickets are primarily viewed as a revenue raising tool for state and local governments.  For example, a federally funded ticketing blitz in the state of Virginia resulted in a total of 6996 traffic tickets being handed out this past weekend.  This most recent ticketing blitz is part of a campaign code-named “Operation Air, Land & Speed”.  Last Saturday and Sunday state troopers were ordered to absolutely saturate Interstate 95 and Interstate 81 and to issue as many traffic tickets as humanly possible during those two days.  Why?  Well, it turns out that the state of Virginia has a 2.2 billion dollar budget deficit that they are trying to deal with, and so they need to find some quick sources of cash. 

You see, state and local governments all over the nation are massively jacking up traffic fines and are starting to write a lot more tickets in an attempt to “enhance” their streams of revenue.

In other words, state and local governments across the U.S. are broke and so they need some suckers to prey on.

Not that it was ever a good idea to break the traffic laws.  But now even a minor violation can put a massive hole in your wallet.  For instance, driving as little as 15 miles an hour over the speed limit in Virginia can get you a reckless driving charge that can carry a fine of up to $2500.

So why the hefty fines?

Well, the law increasing the traffic fines in Virginia clearly admitted why they are so high….

“The purpose of the civil remedial fees imposed in this section is to generate revenue.” (Virginia Code 46.2-206.1)

Are you starting to get the picture?

But this kind of thing is not just happening in Virginia.

“Sobriety checkpoints” in the state of California are increasingly bring used as revenue raising operations.  It turns out that these sobriety checkpoints are far more likely to seize cars from unlicensed motorists than they are to catch drunk drivers.

So how profitable are these “sobriety” checkpoints?

Well, research done by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley with California Watch discovered that impounds at “sobriety” checkpoints in 2009 alone generated approximately 40 million dollars in towing fees and police fines.

That is what you call a source of revenue.

In Detroit, even the police admit that the fundamental nature of police work is changing.  Just consider the following quote from from Police Chief Michael Reaves of Utica, Michigan….

“When I first started in this job 30 years ago, police work was never about revenue enhancement, but if you’re a chief now, you have to look at whether your department produces revenues.”

Sgt. Richard Lyons of Trenton, Michigan is even more blunt about what is happening in his community….

“They’re trying to use police officers to balance the budget on the backs of drivers, and it’s too bad. The people we count on to support us and help us when we’re on the road are the ones who end up paying the bills, and they’re ticked off about it. We might as well just go door to door and tell people, ‘Slide us $100 now since your 16-year-old is going to end up paying us anyway when he starts driving.’ You can’t blame people for getting upset.”

But some localities are converting to even more automated ways of making money from drivers.

For example, “red-light cameras” have become huge revenue raising tools in many areas of the country.  In Los Angeles, revenue from red-light cameras has doubled from $200,000 a month in 2007 to $400,000 a month at the end of 2009.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants cities and counties in his state to take things even farther.  He wants them to install speed sensors on existing red-light cameras.  Speeders caught by these sensors would face fines ranging from $225 to $325.

Don’t all of us wish we could start a business that could make so much money from each customer?

California state officials believe that these speed sensors would raise more than 300 million dollars for the state of California by the end of 2011.

All of this is enough to make one want to drive like a grandmother.

Except then they would get you for going too slow.

Seriously.

The reality is that you have to be very, very careful out there now because the nature of driving in America has fundamentally changed.

Whether it is rapidly increasing traffic fines or all of the toll roads going in everywhere, American drivers are increasingly being viewed as a big fat revenue source.

And as the current economic collapse gets even worse, drivers are going to be preyed upon even more by state and local governments.

If you have not already done so, now is the time to change the way that you drive.  Don’t give state and local governments an excuse to take even more of your hard-earned money from you than they are already.

Has The United States Become A Nation With No Economic Spine?

What are hard working Americans who have scrimped and saved and have done everything “right” financially for decades supposed to think about all of these “bailouts” and of the massive financial mess in Washington?  How are people who have handled their own finances admirably supposed to feel now that the foolishness of others is leading us all towards a horrific economic collapse?  Well, a reader named “Mae” recently left a comment that I think does a good job of communicating what a lot of hard working Americans are feeling right now: My situation is this – we have lived our lives playing by the rules: never carried debt on a credit card that we couldn’t pay off by the due date. If we couldn’t afford the item, we didn’t buy it. We always had a Christmas Club which enabled us to pay cash for the holiday. We payed ourselves first after every paycheck whether it was $10 or $100, whatever we could afford. We made double payments on our mortgage when we could which helped us to pay off our modest home 10 years early. We knew that we couldn’t afford to “have it all” so we made our choices early on and stuck with it. We sacrificed the fancy vacations in order to do large home repairs (like a new roof) ourselves. We didn’t buy expensive cars and now own one outright and carry a small loan on another. That’s our only debt besides monthly bills. We chose jobs that provided health care benefits. We did everything right…we saved and saved and saved to have a decent retirement but of course last year took half the value of our 401k.

Now, I’m expected to sit back and watch Bush, Congress and Obama bail everyone out because they didn’t have the fiscal discipline to manage their money?? I’m supposed to feel bad for people who bought homes they couldn’t afford? or cars they couldn’t pay for? or $1000 cell phone bills? or $20,000 in credit card debt? HELL NO! I’m livid! If I ran my checkbook the way Washington is running the national checkbook, I’d be thrown in jail!

All we can do now is educate as many people as possible about what is happening and hopefully vote all these s.o.b.’s out of office and replace them with fiscally conservative candidates who will vote for term limits. The days of a career politician are over. I don’t know if we can turn any of this around – it will take a lot of hard work to make the tough decisions, but they have to be made if we’re to survive. How many people have the guts to work through this? Not many…we’ve become a spoiled, selfish, arrogant and hypocritical nation with no spine.

Liberty Silver Coins

The Credit Card Trap: How U.S. Credit Card Companies Are Sucking The Financial Life Out Of The American Consumer

There have been very few things more damaging to American consumers over the past couple of decades than credit card debt.  Easy credit has enabled many of us to live absolutely fabulous lifestyles, but outrageously high interest rates, ridiculous penalties and predatory fees have sucked the financial life out of millions of American families.  It is very easy to blame the rapidly exploding debt of the U.S. government for the economic collapse that we are now experiencing, but the truth is that tens of millions of Americans have created their own personal economic disasters by overusing credit cards.  The temptation of easy credit has been too much for millions of Americans to resist, but now all of that easy credit is proving to be incredibly difficult to pay back, and massive debt problems are literally tearing many American families apart.

It is hard to underestimate how devastating credit card debt can be to a family.

According to the credit card repayment calculator, if you owe $6000 on a credit card with a 20 percent interest rate and only pay the minimum payment each time, it will take you 54 years to pay off that credit card.

During that time you will pay $26,168 in interest rate charges in addition to the $6000 in principal that you are required to pay back.

That does not even account for any penalties or fees you may have to pay.

Are you starting to get the picture?

The reality is that credit cards are one of the greatest inventions for sucking the wealth out of middle class American families ever invented.

Just consider the following facts….

*According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the United States.

*At the end of 2008, the total credit card debt piled up by American consumers was over 972 billion dollars.  This is an amount that is greater than the GDP of the world’s 122 poorest nations combined.

*78 percent of American households had at least one credit card at the end of 2008.

*The top 10 credit card issuers control approximately 88 percent of the credit card market.

*The average U.S. college graduate leaves school with more than $2,000 in credit card debt.

So is Congress doing anything to protect American consumers?

Well, some of the key provisions of The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, commonly known as the CARD Act, go into full effect for all credit card providers on February 22nd.  In particular, starting on the 22nd limits will be imposed on when credit card issuers can raise rates on existing card balances.

But the truth is that this new law doesn’t really do much to protect us.  U.S. credit card companies will continue to be able to engage in highly predatory practices.  The following are just three examples….

#1) According to Pamela Banks of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, there are no current federal laws that cap credit card interest rates.  In fact, CNN is reporting that interest rates on some major bank credit cards are now as high as 36 percent.

#2) New laws only address the existing fees charged by credit card companies.  So credit card companies are working hard to invent all kinds of new fees and penalties that will get around the new laws so that they can keep sticking it to American consumers.  For example, Citibank is now charging some consumers with a fee if they put less than $2,400 on their card annually.

#3) In anticipation of the CARD Act going into effect, many credit card companies have been aggressively bumping up the minimum payments for many of their customers.  Chase, one of the biggest credit card providers, recently increased the mandatory minimum payment for many consumers by 150 percent.  MBNA, Citibank and Bank of America have announced that they are doubling minimum monthly payments on credit card balances for many of their customers.  These increases have been absolutely devastating for many families who are on a tight budget.

The bottom line is that we all need to get out of debt and we all need to stop using credit cards.  It is financial insanity to end up paying two, three, four or five times as much for an item as it cost in the store.  We have been making the big banks rich by spending money that we do not have.

So if we are going to accuse the U.S. federal government of horribly wasting our money, we have got to be certain that we are geting our own financial houses in order.

But for many American families it is already too late.  It is hard to pay off debt if you don’t have a job and you are about to lose your home.  In fact, many American families find themselves literally being torn apart by financial stress.

Unfortunately, economic times are not going to get any easier.  If you are able, get out of debt while you still can.  Now is the time to tighten our belts and to prepare ourselves and our families for what is ahead.

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