How To Prepare For The Difficult Years Ahead

How should people prepare for the difficult years that are coming?  I get asked about that a lot.  Once people really examine the facts, it is not too hard to convince them that an economic collapse is coming.  But once they accept that reality, most of them want to know what they can do to prepare themselves and their families for the hard times that are ahead.  Well, the truth is that it does not have to be complicated.  Many of the things discussed throughout this article are things that most of us should be doing anyway.  Now is not the time to be splurging on luxuries or expensive vacations.  Now is not the time to be going into large amounts of debt.  Instead, we all need to get back to the basics and we all need to do what we can to become more independent of the system.  Just remember what happened back in 2008.  Millions of Americans lost their jobs and millions of Americans lost their homes.  Now experts all over the globe are warning that another great financial crisis that could be just as bad as 2008 (or even worse) is coming.  Those that don’t take the time to prepare this time are not going to have any excuse.

But there is also a lot of sensationalism out there.  There are some people out there that claim that the economy is going to collapse all at once and that we are going to go from where we are now to some type of a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” society almost overnight.

Well, that is just not going to happen.  We are not going to wake up next week in a world where we are all fighting each other with sharp pointed sticks.

Just like anything else, an economic collapse takes time.  I like to describe what is happening using an analogy from the beach.  When you build a mighty sand castle, it is not totally destroyed by the first wave that comes along, right?

Well, it is the same thing with the U.S. economy.  It was the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen, and it is most definitely in decline.  But there are stages to that decline.

The “wave” that came along in 2008 did a huge amount of damage.  Our economy has not recovered from that.

Now another wave is coming.  But that will not be the end.  There will be other waves after that.

Eventually, this thing is coming all the way down.  Someday America will be such a horror show that it will be hard to believe that it is the same place that many of us grew up in.

But in the short-term, we are going to be facing a major league recession and millions of Americans will lose their jobs.  It won’t be the end of the world, but for some people it may feel like it.

So when you are talking about “how to prepare”, the truth is that it depends on what kind of time frame you are talking about.

In the long-term, a lot of the things that even the hardcore survivalists are doing will not be nearly enough.

In the short-term, there are things that all of us can do to weather the coming storm….

Get Out Of Debt

The global financial system is headed for a massive crisis.  Just like in 2008, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs and a lot of people are going to lose their homes.

In such an environment, it makes sense to travel as “lightly” as possible.

That means getting rid of debt.

Some forms of debt are worse than others.  Mortgage debt is not that bad.  We all need somewhere to live, and not all of us can run out and immediately pay off our mortgages.

But there are other forms of debt that are absolutely toxic.  A good example of this is credit card debt.  There are very few things that are as good at bleeding your finances as credit card debt is.  For example, according to the credit card repayment calculator, if you have a $6000 balance 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 those 54 years you will pay $26,168 in interest rate charges on that credit card balance in addition to the $6000 in principal that you are required to pay back.  That is before any fees or penalties are even calculated.

But a lot of Americans still have not learned to stay away from credit card debt.  In fact, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

Ouch.

The truth is that in future years there is a good chance that you may be facing a situation where you are not making as much income, so you want to try to start reducing your expenses right now.  Getting out of debt will help you to do this.

Save Money

A shockingly high number of American families are operating without any kind of financial cushion whatsoever….

-According to a Harris Interactive survey taken in 2010, 77 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

-According to one recent survey, one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.

This is one reason why so many Americans have lost their homes and why so many Americans have fallen below the poverty level in recent years.  They simply had no cushion.

Last year, 2.6 million more Americans dropped into poverty.  That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.

Don’t let this happen to you.  At a minimum, everyone out there should have a cushion that will cover at least 6 months worth of expenses.  Preferably, you should have a cushion that will last you at least a year.

Yes, I know that is a tall order.  But you would be amazed at how much money the average American family wastes in a typical month.  Almost all of us have areas where we can cut back.

Trust me, in the middle of a major recession you will be really glad that you are sitting on a pile of savings.

Get Independent Of The System

What would you do if you lost your job tomorrow?

Would you have any other income?

How long would it be before you lost your home?

Those are very important questions.

The truth is that the system is failing and so we all need to work hard to become more independent of the system.

So what does that mean?

Well, instead of relying on someone else to employ you indefinitely, you can start up a business in your spare time.  Yes, it will cut into your television time, but if someday you lose your job you will be extremely happy that you still have some income coming in.

Another way of becoming more independent is to start a garden.

Yes, you can run down the street and buy giant piles of cheap food right now, but that will not be the case forever.

Store Food And Focus On The Essentials

I might get into a little trouble for saying this, but the truth is that there is not going to be a major famine in America in 2012.

However, that does not mean that you should not be storing food and other essentials.

In the old days, our grandparents always saved up food.  It was just a natural thing for them to do.  This was especially the case if they lived through the Great Depression.

When hard times come, you will be glad that you have food stored up.  Plus, food is never going to be cheaper than it is today.  Having food stored up is a great hedge against the rising food prices that we will see in the future.

No, we are not going to see hyperinflation by the end of the year like many of the sensationalists are warning.  But someday you will be really glad that you stored up food for yourself and your family.

We live in a world that is becoming more unstable with each passing month.  You never know when the next natural disaster, pandemic, war or national emergency will strike.

It only makes sense to store food and other basic essentials that you will need in the future.

In a previous article entitled “20 Things You Will Need To Survive When The Economy Collapses And The Next Great Depression Begins”, I listed 20 of the things that you would need in the event of a major disaster, a national emergency or a total economic collapse.  These are things that you are going to want to make sure that you have ready right now, because after the crisis begins it may be too late to prepare….

#1) Storable Food

#2) Clean Water

#3) Shelter

#4) Warm Clothing

#5) An Axe

#6) Lighters Or Matches

#7) Hiking Boots Or Comfortable Shoes

#8) A Flashlight And/Or Lantern

#9) A Radio

#10) Communication Equipment

#11) A Swiss Army Knife

#12) Personal Hygiene Items

#13) A First Aid Kit And Other Medical Supplies

#14) Extra Gasoline (But Be Very Careful How You Store It)

#15) A Sewing Kit

#16) Self-Defense Equipment

#17) A Compass

#18) A Hiking Backpack

#19) A Community

#20) A Backup Plan

In the comments to that article, the readers suggested the following additional items….

A K-Bar Fighting Knife

Salt

Extra Batteries

Medicine

A Camp Stove

Propane

Pet Food

Heirloom Seeds

Tools

An LED Headlamp

Candles

Clorox

Calcium Hypochlorite

Ziplock Bags

Maps Of Your Area

Binoculars

Sleeping Bags

Rifle For Hunting

Extra Socks

Gloves

Gold And Silver Coins For Bartering

Once again, a lot of these things are not going to be needed right away.  The economy is going to go through a lot more ups and downs before it totally dies.

In the short-term, keep an eye on the European debt crisis, the Japanese debt crisis and the U.S. debt crisis.  There are a lot of similarities between what happened back in 2008 and what is happening now.

And what happened following the crisis of 2008?

Unemployment shot through the roof.

So be prepared for that.

Make a plan for how you and your family will survive if you end up unemployed.

Also, when it comes to “how to prepare”, there is one aspect that is often overlooked.

During the difficult years ahead, we are all going to have to be mentally and spiritually tough.

It won’t matter how good your physical and financial preparations are if you are cowardly and paralyzed by fear.

The times that are coming are going to test all of our hearts.

Some people are going to make it and some people aren’t.

Some people will become so consumed with fear that they will give up completely.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Prepare your heart, soul, mind and body right now for what is coming.  For those that are cowardly the years ahead will be a total nightmare, but for those that overcome the fear the years ahead have the potential to be a great adventure.


20 Signs That The Culture Of Government Dependence Has Gotten Completely And Totally Out Of Control

More Americans are financially dependent on the government than ever before.  For a variety of reasons, there are now tens of millions of Americans that would not be able to survive without government assistance.  As I wrote about the other day, the insane economic policies of our “representatives” in Washington D.C. have created a situation where there are not nearly enough decent jobs for everyone.  So the job market has become a giant game of “musical chairs” and a lot of American families have been left out in the cold when the music has stopped.  Of course we are not going to let them starve in the streets.  There are also some Americans that simply do not have the capacity to take care of themselves.  It is certainly the compassionate thing to do to give them a helping hand.  However, with all of that said, we also have to face the fact that we have created a “culture of dependence” in this country.  Americans that are now in their prime working years have been taught all of their lives that the government is going to take care of them from the cradle to the grave.  This culture of government dependence has gotten completely and totally out of control, and now nearly half of all American households receive some form of government benefits.  As a result, our debt is absolutely exploding, everyone looks to the government to solve our problems and very few Americans seem to possess a very strong work ethic any longer.

This article is going to make a lot of people angry, but it is imperative that we all comes to grips with the fact that this is not how a society is supposed to work.  Yes, we should help those that do not have the capacity to help themselves.  Yes, the insane policies of the federal government have created this economic environment where very few people can find jobs.  We didn’t want to keep their jobs in the country, so now we are going to have to support millions of displaced American workers somehow.

However, the notion that the federal government is supposed to take care of us from the time that we are born until the time that we die is poisonous.  As you will see below, federal government handouts have absolutely skyrocketed in recent years, but this has just created an environment where people are demanding even more handouts.

The truth is that the government is not your mommy and your daddy.  The government is not there to take money away from someone else and give it to you.  The government is supposed to be the “referee” – not your own personal caretaker.

So should we just start dumping millions upon millions of people off of government welfare rolls?

Of course not.  We cannot do that, because from the time that they were babies millions of Americans have been taught to be completely dependent on the government.  If we just suddenly cut them off they would not be able to make it.  They simply have never learned how.  We aren’t going to let tens of millions of people starve in the streets.  A growing percentage of Americans have never learned how to make it on their own.

That is one of the reasons why this culture of government dependence is so toxic.  People never learn to take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, the American people have become absolutely addicted to government money.  One way not to get elected is to threaten to reduce the government checks that people get every month.  Any politician that is honest about what we really can afford usually does not get a whole lot of support.

Yes, there is nothing wrong with helping the poor, the needy, the homeless and the despairing.

But each year millions more Americans climb aboard the “safety net”.  As I keep warning, at some point the “safety net” is going to break.

The government is not supposed to be your God.  If you have problems, then you need to fix them.

Yes, without a doubt that is not an easy thing to do in this economic environment.  Our government has royally messed things up.

But life is not easy and life is not fair.  Sometimes you just have to do the best you can with what you have.  If you wait around for the government to be your savior, you will almost always end up deeply disappointed and you will never get anywhere in life.

The following are 20 signs that the culture of government dependence has gotten completely and totally out of control….

#1 If you can believe it, 48.5% of all Americans now live in a household that receives some form of government benefits.  Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.

#2 Way too many Americans believe that the government should just swoop in and solve all of their problems.  For example, the plight of a single mother named Angel Adams made national headlines recently.  Over the years her relationships with three different men have produced 15 children, and she was recently found living in a single motel room with 12 of those children.

As you can see in the video below, Adams is looking for the government to come in and rescue her.  The following is what Adams told one reporter….

“Somebody needs to pay for all my children and my – for all my suffering. Somebody needs to be held accountable, and they need to pay.”

You can see news clips about this case in the video posted below….

After seeing this video, most Americans would respond with statements such as these….

*”The government needs to help that mother out”

*”The government needs to take those children away from her”

*”The government needs to keep women like that from having so many kids”

Do you see the common theme there?

Today, Americans almost always think that the solution to a problem involves the government doing something.

In America, women should be free to have as many children as they want.  But they should also not expect the government to swoop in and rescue them from the consequences of the choices that they have made.

Yes, we always need to make sure that all children have food to eat and a roof over their heads.  But it is not the job of the government to come in and control her life, and it is not the job of the government “to pay” for her to have a comfortable life either.

#3 The amount of money paid out to individual citizens by the government today is absolutely staggering.  In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for 18.4% of all income.

#4 According to a recent ABC News report, suicides in rural America are spiking, and experts say that cuts to Medicaid are partly to blame….

Kathie Garrett, co-chairman of the Idaho Council on Suicide Prevention, says the problem has gotten only worse since the recession. “The poor economy and unemployment—those put a lot of stress on people’s lives,” she explains. To save money, people skip doctor visits and cut back on taking prescribed medications. Cuts in Medicaid have reduced the services available to the mentally ill.

“I personally know people who lost Medicaid who’ve attempted suicide,” says Garrett.

#5 By the end of 2011, approximately 55 million Americans will receive a total of 727 billion dollars in Social Security benefits.  In future years, this dollar figure is projected to absolutely skyrocket.

#6 When you total it all up, American households are now receiving more money from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes.

#7 It is being projected that the federal government will account for more than 50 percent of all health care spending in 2012.

#8 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#9 According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system paid out more in benefits than it received in payroll taxes in 2010.  That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.

#10 The federal government is expected to “take care” of their workers far better than the private sector does.  If you can believe it, the average federal employee in the Washington D.C. area brings in total compensation worth more than $126,000 a year.

#11 Last year, federal employees “earned” approximately 447 billion dollars in total compensation.

#12 Spending by the federal government accounts for approximately one third of the GDP of the entire Washington D.C. region.

#13 The federal government spent more than 50 billion dollars on “housing assistance” in 2009.

#14 The U.S. government now says that the Medicare trust fund will run out five years faster than they were projecting just last year.

#15 The total cost of just three federal government programs – the Department of Defense, Social Security and Medicare – exceeded the total amount of taxes brought in during fiscal 2010 by 10 billion dollars.

#16 Right now, there are more than 45 million Americans on food stamps.  That means that approximately one out of every seven Americans is dependent on the federal government for food.

#17 The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 74% since 2007.

#18 Sadly, one out of every four American children is now on food stamps.

#19 In 2010, 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States were on food stamps.

#20 According to one study, “64.3 million Americans depended on the government (read: their fellow citizens) for their daily housing, food, and health care” during 2009.

After reading this article, a lot of people may get the impression that I am greedy and that I am “on the side” of the rich.

That is not the case at all.

I have repeatedly written about the growing problem of income inequality in America.

I have repeatedly written about the need to reduce the power and the wealth of the big banks and the big corporations.

I have repeatedly written about how our government is run by wealthy people and almost all political campaigns are funded by wealthy people.

We need to level the playing field so that individuals and small businesses have a chance to thrive once again.

Unfortunately, a lot of people out there think that the solution to these problems is to raise taxes on the wealthy and redistribute even more money to those receiving handouts.

Number one, that will never get those on handouts on the road to a better life.  Handouts are never a permanent solution.  A good job is a permanent solution.

Number two, that will only make the culture of government dependence even worse.

Yes, we need to take care of the poor and the needy.

I am a huge advocate of that.

In the book of James, it says the following….

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

It is not the job of the government to take care of the poor and the needy.

It is our job.

If you are able to take care of yourself and your family, and you are not actively doing something to help the poor, then something is wrong.

There is nothing wrong with making a lot of money.

But there is something wrong with hoarding your wealth.

Sadly, most Americans have grown accustomed to the idea that they don’t have to take care of the poor because “the government” is going to do it.

That is another example of the “culture of government dependence”.  We have gotten so used to “the government” taking care of others that we don’t even lift a finger ourselves.

We need to stop waiting for the government to fix everything.

The government is not going to fix our lives.

The government is not going to fix the lives of those around us either.

We need to start taking responsibility for our own lives and for our own communities.

Does anyone disagree?

***UPDATE***

Here is another example from ABC News of an American that completely lost it when she realized that the government was not going to be her savior….

A Texas woman who for months was unable to qualify for food stamps pulled a gun in a state welfare office and staged a seven-hour standoff with police that ended with her shooting her two children before killing herself, officials said Tuesday.

We need to help the American people understand that the government is always going to end up failing them and that they need to fix their own lives.

34 Pieces Of Evidence That Prove That The Middle Class In America Is Rapidly Shrinking

Do you ever get the feeling that the middle class in America is shrinking?  Well, you are not imagining things.  A confluence of very troubling long-term economic trends has created an environment in which the middle class in America is being absolutely shredded.  Today, most American families would be absolutely thrilled if they could live as well as past generations did.  The dream of receiving a solid education, getting a good job, owning a beautiful home and enjoying the good things that America has to offer is increasingly becoming out of reach for a growing number of Americans.  The reality is that even though our population has grown, there are less jobs than there used to be.  A much higher percentage of the jobs that remain are low income jobs.  Millions of middle class American families are desperately trying to hang on as inflation far outpaces the growth of their paychecks.  Millions of others have fallen completely out of the middle class and are now totally dependent on the government for survival.  We once had the largest, most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but now way too much unemployment, way too much inflation, way too much greed and way too much debt are all starting to catch up with us.  America is changing, and not for the better.

When most of us were growing up, we understood that there was an unspoken promise that if we got good grades, stayed out of trouble, worked really hard and did everything we were told to do, the system would reward us.

Well, today there are millions of Americans that have done all of those things but don’t have anything to show for it.

As large numbers of hard working people continue to fall out of the middle class, there is a growing sense that “the system” has betrayed us all.

Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. economy is dying.  The endless prosperity that we all enjoyed in the past is gone and it is never going to come back.

The following are 34 pieces of evidence that prove that the middle class in America is rapidly shrinking….

#1 In 1980, 52 percent of all jobs in the United States were middle income jobs.  Today, only 42 percent of all jobs are middle income jobs.

#2 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#3 Only 63.5 percent of all men in the United States had a job last month.  According to Bloomberg, that figure is “just slightly above the December 2009 nadir of 63.3%. These are the lowest numbers since 1948.”

#4 In 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  Last month, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.

#5 According to one recent survey, 64 percent of Americans would be forced to borrow money if they had an unexpected expense of $1000.

#6 The wealthiest 1% of all Americans now control 40 percent of all the wealth in this country.

#7 The poorest 50% of all Americans now control just 2.5% of all the wealth in this country.

#8 The wealthiest 1% of all Americans now own over 50% of all the stocks and bonds.

#9 According to the Washington Post, the average yearly income of the bottom 90 percent of all U.S. income earners is just $31,244.

#10 The average yearly income of the top 0.1% of all U.S. income earners is 5.6 million dollars.

#11 Between 1969 and 2009, the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#12 Only the top 5 percent of all U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#13 During this economic downturn, employee compensation in the United States has been the lowest that it has been relative to gross domestic product in over 50 years.

#14 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.

#15 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

#16 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million people to the population since then.

#17 Since the year 2000, we have lost approximately 10% of our middle class jobs.  In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

#18 The competition for even the most basic jobs has become absolutely brutal.  Approximately 7 percent of all those that apply to get into Harvard are accepted.  At a recent “National Hiring Day” held by McDonald’s only about 6.2 percent of the one million Americans that applied for a job were hired.

#19 It now takes the average unemployed worker in America about 40 weeks to find a new job.

#20 According to a report released in February from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries are accounting for 40 percent of the job losses in America but only 14 percent of the job growth.  Lower wage industries are accounting for just 23 percent of the job losses but 49 percent of the job growth.

#21 Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

#22 The cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent since 1978.

#23 In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors and more than 317,000 waiters and waitresses that have college degrees.

#24 17 million college graduates are doing jobs that do not even require a college degree.

#25 According to one recent survey, 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything at all to retirement savings.

#26 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.

#27 As 2007 began, there were 26 million Americans on food stamps.  Today, there are more than 45 million Americans on food stamps, which is a new all-time record.

#28 The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 74% since 2007.

#29 Today, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#30 In 1980, just 11.7% of all personal income came from government transfer payments.  Today, 18.4% of all personal income comes from government transfer payments.

#31 The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.

#32 One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.

#33 In the United States, over 20 percent of all children are now living in poverty.  In the UK and in France that figure is well under 10 percent.

#34 According to the Federal Reserve, the richest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

As the middle class continues to shrivel up and die, the number of desperate people is going to continue to grow.

In the past, I have written extensively about how many Americans are already becoming so desperate that they will do just about anything for money.

Well, here are a couple more examples….

One unemployed man down in the Phoenix area that had reportedly robbed 12 banks told police the following about why he did it….

“I rob to survive.”

As millions more Americans fall into poverty, we are going to see a lot more crime.

Most of these people are not going to commit crimes because they enjoy them.  Rather, they will be doing what they feel they need to do in order to survive.

Not all of the shady activity will be so violent.  Desperation comes out in different ways.  For example, there are now actually websites where women advertise their “services” to potential “sugar daddies” that will help them with college expenses or support them financially.

Hopefully those reading this article will never resort to those kinds of things.

Yes, things are going to be tough, but there are always good alternatives if you are willing to look hard enough for them.

If you really need a job right now, pay close attention to the next couple of points.  Good jobs are very hard to come by in most areas at the moment, so you may have to be willing to make some sacrifices if you are desperate.

According to Bloomberg, there is a substantial shortage of truck drivers across the nation right now.

Driving a truck is really hard work, and it would take you away from home for extended periods of time, but the pay is pretty good.

If you are desperate for a job, this is something that you may want to look into.  There really is a shortage of truck drivers, and a paycheck is a paycheck.

Also, there are reportedly lots of jobs up in North Dakota right now.  Thanks to the oil boom up there, money is flowing and job opportunities are plentiful.

Just check out the following excerpt from a recent CNBC article about the employment boom going on in North Dakota right now….

Unemployment is a national problem in the U.S., but you wouldn’t know that if you travel through North Dakota.

The state’s unemployment rate hovers around 3 percent, and “Help Wanted” signs litter the landscape of cities such as Williston in the same way “For Sale” signs populate the streets of Las Vegas.

“It’s a zoo,” said Terry Ayers, who drove into town from Spokane, Wash., slept in his truck, and found a job within hours of arrival, tripling his salary. “It’s crazy what’s going on out here.”

Yes, it is really, really cold up in North Dakota.  There is very little housing available in the boom areas and for most of you it would require some significant sacrifices to take a job up there.

But there really are lots of jobs available up in North Dakota.  If you are desperate, you may want to really consider looking into it.

Now for the bad news.  Unfortunately, it is looking increasingly likely that we could have another major financial crisis some time fairly soon.

As I wrote about yesterday, Europe is a financial nightmare right now.  I honestly do not see any way that they are going to be able to fix things.

Fear is seemingly everywhere in Europe right now.  A recent article in The Telegraph entitled “Market crash ‘could hit within weeks’, warn bankers” postulated that we could be on the verge of a horrifying repeat of the financial crisis of 2008….

“The problem is a shortage of liquidity – that is what is causing the problems with the banks. It feels exactly as it felt in 2008,” said one senior London-based bank executive.

“I think we are heading for a market shock in September or October that will match anything we have ever seen before,” said a senior credit banker at a major European bank.

So you might want to try to get whatever kind of a job that you can right now before the next wave of the financial crisis hits.

Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon and things do not look promising.  The coming economic storms are going to be very hard on the middle class in America.

The number of good jobs is going to continue to decline and our paychecks are going to get stretched tighter and tighter.

The “system” is not going to save you.

The “system” is failing.

You better get ready.

Stress!

Has anyone else noticed that the level of stress in this country appears to be extremely high right now?  Today, it seems like our federal government, our state governments and most American families live in a constant state of crisis.  Everywhere you look there are major problems.  Right now everyone is stressed out because of the “debt ceiling deadline”.  Earlier this year everyone was freaked out about the possibility of a “government shutdown”.  If by some miracle Barack Obama and the Republicans are able to reach a deal in the next few days that will not help the national stress level for long.  Another gut-wrenching “national crisis” will almost certainly come along very quickly.  Meanwhile, average American families are feeling more stress than ever.  There are millions of ordinary Americans that either cannot find jobs or are working as hard as they can and yet cannot seem to pay their mortgages and provide the basics for their families.  We are a nation that is really stressed out right now, and as things continue to unravel the level of stress is only going to increase.

Compared to much of the rest of the world, we have an insanely high standard of living, and yet we appear to be some of the most unhappy people on the face of the earth.

Wherever you turn today, someone is popping a pill.  The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.  Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.

What in the world is wrong with us?

America is a country that desperately needs to chill out.

Washington D.C. sure is a stressful place right now.  Most of our politicians seem to be focused on the 2012 elections rather than on trying to solve our problems.

Most of our leaders are prancing around trying to make themselves look good.  Meanwhile, our national financial situation continues to go down the toilet.

One way or another this “debt ceiling crisis” will probably get solved.  Our politicians will come up with some sort of a “deal” and it will almost certainly be a bad one.

The sad truth is that the U.S. national debt problem should have been addressed decades ago.

But it wasn’t.

So now we are sitting on a 14 trillion dollar timebomb.

Yes, the ultra-wealthy have become absolute masters at avoiding taxation, but even if some way to tap into their offshore wealth could be found, it still would only put a small dent in the problem.

The truth is that the U.S. government spends way too much money.

U.S. government spending is now above 25 percent of U.S. GDP.  That is way above what has been normal during the post-World War II era.

But cutting government spending is not going to fix our system either.

The reality is that our debt-based financial system is designed to trap our federal government in a constantly expanding spiral of debt indefinitely.

As I have written about previously, the U.S. government debt problem will never be fixed as long as the Federal Reserve is running our financial system.

Under our current system, the debt is going to continue to grow no matter who we elect.

As our debt grows, our economy will suffer and the national stress level will continue to rise.

But for most American households, government debt is not the thing causing the most stress these days.

Most Americans are much more concerned about their own personal financial situations.

Most people just want to work hard, pay the bills and raise their families.  But that is becoming extremely difficult to to.

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 90 percent of Americans believe that the economy is performing poorly.

The same poll found that 80 percent of Americans believe that it is “difficult” to find a job these days.

In the United States today, there are 14 million unemployed people.  Tonight there are huge numbers of Americans that are sitting at home desperately hoping that someone will give them a job.  A significant percentage of our population that should be productive is just sitting on the sidelines.  Just check out the following quote from a recent CNN article….

Has anyone in Washington noticed that 20% of American men are not working? That’s right. One out of five men in this country are collecting unemployment, in prison, on disability, operating in the underground economy, or getting by on the paychecks of wives or girlfriends or parents. The equivalent number in 1970, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, was 7%.

With numbers like that, how in the world can anyone claim that our economy is healthy?

Sadly, it looks like things may get even worse.  As I have written about previously, we are now starting to see another huge wave of layoffs all over the nation.

The employment crisis has a ripple effect throughout the rest of the economy as well.

Without good jobs, Americans cannot buy homes.  The housing crash is not going to be fixed until there the employment situation gets fixed.

With lending standards tighter than ever, it takes someone with a good income and a solid employment history to be able to qualify for a home loan.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of people like that in the marketplace right now.

So, the housing industry continues to suffer.

Last year was the worst year for new home sales in modern U.S. history.  So far, this year is even worse.

Ouch.

It would be really nice if we actually would have an economic recovery, but it just isn’t happening.

Prices are rising and incomes are not.  American families are feeling more squeezed than ever.

A lot of Americans live in a constant state of stress because of debt.

According to one new poll, about 20 percent of American adults worry about debt “most or all of the time”.

If you have ever been there, then you know how financial stress can rob sleep from you night after night after night.

Today, total credit card debt in the U.S. is more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

Some Americans can handle credit cards, but a lot of them can’t.  A staggering 46 percent of Americans do not pay their credit card bills in full each month.

But credit card debt is only one form of debt that is causing stress for American families.  The truth is that the total amount of student loan debt is even greater than the total amount of credit card debt.  Medical debt is another huge problem.  The vast majority of American families are dealing with a debt problem of one form or another.  The decades of “easy credit” that we enjoyed are really starting to catch up with us.

Today, the average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt.

That is not a good thing.  American consumers are tapped out and the economy is suffering.

As the economy crumbles, many hard working Americans are finding that their lives have radically changed.  Just check out the following excerpt from an article posted on a local Connecticut news source….

For 28 years, Cathy Hartley of Glastonbury brought home a good paycheck from her job at Aetna.

But last Tuesday, she was in line with her two young granddaughters for free produce from Mobile Foodshare at the First Church of Christ Congregational on Main Street.

For Hartley, who said she was laid off from her job as a project manager about six years ago and then laid off from a subsequent job two years ago, every little bit helps. Her eligibility for unemployment ran out two months ago.

Could you imagine standing in line at a food bank?

Don’t laugh.

It just might happen to you.

Millions of Americans that have lost their jobs and their homes never thought that it would happen to them.

Wealth and possessions are here today and gone tomorrow.  People that base their lives on the things that they own are always going to have a high level of stress.  We didn’t bring any of these things into the world with us, and we can’t take any of them with us when we leave.

So try not to stress out too much.  We should all learn to be content whether we have a lot or whether we have a little.

So what do all of you think about the stress level in America right now?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

Broke! 10 Facts About The Financial Condition Of American Families That Will Blow Your Mind

The crumbling U.S. economy is putting an extraordinary amount of financial stress on American families.  For many Americans, “flat broke” has become a permanent condition.  Today, over half of all American families live paycheck to paycheck.  Unemployment is rampant and those that do actually have jobs are finding that their wages are rising much more slowly than prices are.  The financial condition of average American families continues to decline and this is showing up in all of the recent surveys.  For example, according to a new Gallup poll, “lack of money/low wages” is the number one financial concern for American families.  To make ends meet, many American families are going into even more debt and more American families than ever are turning to government assistance.  Right now, more Americans than at any other point since World War II are flat broke and have lost hope.  Until this changes, the frustration level in this country is going to continue to grow.

The following are 10 facts about the financial condition of American families that will blow your mind…..

#1 Only 58 percent of Americans have a job right now.

#2 Only 56 percent of Americans are currently covered by employer-provided health insurance.

#3 The median yearly wage in the United States is $26,261.

#4 The average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt.

#5 Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#6 At this point, American families are approximately 7.7 trillion dollars poorer than they were back in early 2007.

#7 The poorest 50% of all Americans now own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#8 According to one study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States were living below the poverty line in 2010.

#9 Today, there are more than 44 million Americans on food stamps, and nearly half of them are children.

#10 According to Newsweek, close to 20 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 54 do not have a job at the moment.

So what is causing all of this?

Where in the world did all of the good jobs go?

Well, the truth is that millions of them have been shipped overseas.

Our politicians promised us that merging our economy with the economies of other nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages to workers would not create more unemployment inside America.

They were dead wrong.

Now we are being told that we just need to accept a lower standard of living.

For example, billionaire Howard Marks says that it is time for all of us to just accept that the standard of living of American workers is inevitably going to decline to the level of the rest of the world….

“In addition to balancing the budget and growing the economy, I think we have to accept that the coming decades are likely to see U.S. standards of living decline relative to the rest of the world. Unless our goods offer a better cost/benefit bargain, there’s no reason why American workers should continue to enjoy the same lifestyle advantage over workers in other countries. I just don’t expect to hear many politicians own up to this reality on the stump.”

Are you willing to accept that?

Well, most Americans appear to be willing to accept this “new reality” because they keep sending most of the exact same bozos back to Washington D.C.

Meanwhile, the job losses continue to get worse.  As I wrote about the other day, as the U.S. economy has started to slow down again we are starting to see another huge wave of layoffs all over America.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where all of our jobs are going.  But unfortunately, most Americans don’t understand what is happening because neither the mainstream media nor our politicians are telling them the truth.

For much more on how millions of our good jobs are being shipped out of the country, please see another article I recently published entitled “How Globalism Has Destroyed Our Jobs, Businesses And National Wealth In 10 Easy Steps“.

But it is not just the globalization of the economy that is destroying our jobs.

The federal government bureaucracy has become so oppressive that it is amazing that anyone is still willing to hire workers in this day and age.

Hiring workers has become so complicated and so expensive that many small business owners want to avoid it at all cost.

For example, a small business owner identified as “007” recently left the following comment on one of my recent articles….

Speaking as a small employer, I would rather have a root canal than another employee. Let’s see. You first have to hire someone you trust without some labor lawyer suing you for some type of discrimination. Then you have OSHA to make sure your work place is safe. Then you have workmans compensation insurance, unemployment taxes, health insurance, liability insurance, now Obamacare. Oh be careful not to be deemed to have a “hostile work environment”. Then you have to negotiate the labor laws. The Department of Labor is constantly cranking out regulation.

Then you get the pleasure of paying payroll taxes both state and federal along with the required filing of a multitude of payroll forms. Miss filing or paying these taxes and you will be crushed with interest and penalties.

Of course, you are competing with businesses that can hire at a fraction of the cost of American Labor and with very little regulations. In this economy, no one in their right mind is hiring into this unstable and declining economy.

If business turns down all you have to worry about is laying off workers. Of course your unemployment insurance tax will go up 200% for years. Then you only have to then worry about a wrongful termination law suit.

The entire system is stacked against American workers.

If you are a blue collar worker, you should give up hope that things are going to get better.  The system has failed you.

You can stop waiting for the “good jobs” to come back.

They aren’t coming back.

That is one reason why I try to encourage everyone to become more independent of the system.

As our economic system continues to degenerate, Americans are going to become increasingly desperate.

Sadly, desperate people do desperate things.  Already we are starting to see signs that the fabric of American society is starting to be ripped to shreds.

So what is going to happen if the economy gets even worse?

There is a limit to how many people we can actually put in prison.  The reality is that the number of Americans in prison has nearly tripled since 1987.

Our prisons are already dangerously overcrowded.  As society falls apart, many communities will simply not be able to shove more people behind bars.

Even with our prisons stuffed to the gills, many of our largest cities continue to be transformed into absolute hellholes.

Detroit is now the 3rd most dangerous city on the entire planet and New Orleans is now the 9th most dangerous city on the entire planet.

So what are our leaders doing about all of this?

Well, they appear to be too busy fighting with each other and cheating on their wives to do much about our problems.

According to Politico, U.S. Representative David Wu is the latest member of Congress to be accused of a sex scandal….

Rep. David Wu has been accused of an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the teenage daughter of a longtime friend, the latest scandal to engulf the troubled Oregon Democrat.

This country is a complete and total mess.  Tens of millions of American families are flat broke and are about to slip into poverty.  Meanwhile, our politicians continue to prove that they are some of the most corrupt on the planet.

There are many out there that still believe that America has a bright future ahead.

It is getting really hard to see why anyone could possibly believe that.

 

Outcasts: Tonight Tens Of Thousands Of Formerly Middle Class Americans Will Be Sleeping In Their Cars, In Tent Cities Or On The Streets

Economic despair is beginning to spread rapidly in America.  As you read this, there are millions of American families that are just barely hanging on by their fingernails.  For a growing number of Americans, it has become an all-out battle just to be able to afford to sleep under a roof and put a little bit of food on the table.  Sadly, there are more people than ever that are losing that battle.  Tonight, tens of thousands of formerly middle class Americans will be sleeping in their cars, even though that is illegal in many U.S. cities.  Tens of thousands of others will be sleeping in tent cities or on the streets.  Meanwhile, communities all over America are passing measures that are meant to push tent cities and homeless people out of their areas.  It turns out that once you lose your job and your home in this country you become something of an outcast.  Sadly, the number of “outcasts” is going to continue to grow as the U.S. economy continues to collapse.

Most Americans that end up living in their cars on in tent cities never thought that it would happen to them.

An article in Der Spiegel profiled one American couple that is absolutely shocked at what has happened to them….

Chanelle Sabedra is already on that road. She and her husband have been sleeping in their car for almost three weeks now. “We never saw this coming, never ever,” says Sabedra. She starts to cry. “I’m an adult, I can take care of myself one way or another, and same with my husband, but (my kids are) too little to go through these things.” She has three children; they are nine, five and three years old.

“We had a house further south, in San Bernardino,” says Sabedra. Her husband lost his job building prefab houses in July 2009. The utility company turned off the gas. “We were boiling water on the barbeque to bathe our kids,” she says. No longer able to pay the rent, the Sabedras were evicted from their house in August.

How would you feel if you had a 3 year old kid and a 5 year old kid and you were sleeping in a car?

Sadly, if child protective services finds out about that family those kids will probably be stolen away and never returned.

America is becoming a very cruel place.

Unfortunately, what has happened to that family is not an isolated incident.  As rampant unemployment has spread across America, the number of people that have lost their homes has soared.

Today, it is estimated that approximately a third of the homeless population in Seattle live in their cars.

It is even happening to my readers.  A reader named JD left the following comment on one of my articles a while back….

I was laid off from my construction job almost 2 yrs ago was on unenjoyment for over a yr they cut me off last september so i lost my apartment. Since then ive been couch surfing and hotel hopping. Now i occaisonally sleep in my car. I was lucky enough to have a friend with a lawn care business so i can at least put ever increasing gas in my car\house. I hate to say it but i think we will see hoovervilles in the major cities soon. When the welfare & food stamps & all the other govt. programs end the anarchy begins.

Desperation is rising all over America.  Most people had hoped to see an economic recovery by now but it just hasn’t happened.

The phenomenon of Americans living in their cars has become so prominent that even Time Magazine has done a story about it….

For people who cannot afford rent, a car is the last rung of dignity and sanity above the despair of the streets. A home on wheels is a classic American affair, from the wagon train to the RV. Now, for some formerly upwardly mobile Americans, the economic storm has turned the backseat or the rear of the van into the bedroom. “We found six people sleeping in their cars on an overnight police ride-along in December,” says John Edmund, chief of staff to Long Beach councilman Dee Andrews. “One was a widow living in a four-door sedan. She and her husband had been Air Force veterans. She did not know about the agencies that could help her. I had tears in my eyes afterwards.”

Unfortunately, it turns out that sleeping in cars has been made illegal in many areas of the United States.

In many cities, police are putting boots on the cars and when the homeless owners can’t pay the fines the vehicles are being taken away from them.

Venice, California is one place where people have been arrested for living in vehicles.  Venice had been a popular spot for people living in their RVs to go, but police started arresting people that were living in RVs and they began towing away their vehicles. The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared on the Daily Kos website….

They took Eric while he was changing his battery in his car. Claimed he lived in his car. A few days later they went to 3th Street and took his RV because he was in jail and no one moved it for 72 hours. Saturday they did a sweep of 7th and took Bear and his RV. They also took Elizabeth’s RV but do not know if they took Elizabeth but can not find her. The police went to 6th and took the white RV that always parks by Broadway on 6th. Everyday they take 1 to 4 RVs. Very soon there will be no one left.

Once you are down on your luck in America you will quickly find that authorities will try to take everything else you still have away from you.

The United States can be a very brutal place to be if you are poor.

All over America, communities are making tent cities illegal or they are simply just chasing them away.

It turns out that many Americans really don’t like large numbers of homeless people camping out in their neighborhoods.

But many of those now living in tent cities used to be just like you and me.

What is being done to tent cities in some areas of the country is absolutely disgusting.

For example, who could ever forget this video of police in St. Petersburg, Florida using box cutters to slash up the tents of the homeless….

What goes through your mind when you watch something like that?

If you don’t feel at least a little bit of compassion for those people then something is wrong.

You never know – you might be the next one forced to take refuge in a tent city.

In many U.S. cities, it is even illegal to sleep on the street.  If you are homeless I am not sure what you are supposed to do.  In some areas of the U.S. you can’t sleep in your car, you can’t sleep in a tent city and you can’t sleep on the street.

So what should we do with all of the Americans that are being forced out of their homes by this economy?

Should we just round them all up and put them into fenced camps?

Don’t laugh – we are getting closer to that kind of thing every day.

We live in very frightening times.

Poverty is absolutely exploding in America.  The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.  There are 44 million Americans on food stamps.  If it was not for measures like these, the streets of America would be filled with destitute people.

Things are tough out there and they are about to get tougher.

At the beginning of next year, the extended unemployment benefits that have been helping the unemployed during this economic downturn will expire.  Up to now, many unemployed Americans have been able to enjoy up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.  Now that is coming to an end.

According to the New York Times, this is going to drain 37 billion dollars out of the wallets of unemployed Americans that are just barely hanging on.

What in the world is that going to do to the economy?

This all comes at a time when it looks like unemployment is going to start rising once again.

Cisco has just announced that they are going to be laying off 10,000 workers.  Other large firms are expected to announce more layoffs shortly.  The number of good jobs continues to shrink.

There are other signs that the economy is slowing once again.  Pre-orders for Christmas toys are way down.  Vacancies at U.S. shopping malls are rising again.  Nearly every major poll shows that Americans are extremely pessimistic about the economy right now.

So why in the world is all of this happening?

Where in the world did all of our jobs go?

Well, it turns out that millions of our jobs have been shipped overseas where the labor is far, far cheaper and it is really starting to catch up with us.

On The American Dream website, I just finished an article entitled “How Globalism Has Destroyed Our Jobs, Businesses And National Wealth In 10 Easy Steps“.  It is a 2500 word essay that explains how globalization has absolutely gutted our economy.  The article will hopefully help you understand why so many good jobs have left the United States and why they aren’t coming back.

Many of our great cities that used to be the envy of the entire globe are now a bad joke to the rest of the world.

The following is what one reporter from the UK found when he visited one of the worst areas of Detroit….

Occasionally a half-ruined or half-burned house still stands to remind you that this used to be a cityscape. Pathetic, besieged knots of surviving homes remind you of what was once here. Sometimes amazing efforts have been made to keep them smart. More often, they haven’t.

Many bear menacing notices warning visitors to stay away. On the door of one, easy to imagine as a neat home with an iron-pillared porch where the head of the family must once have sat on summer evenings, are the words ‘Enter at ya own risk’ accompanied by a crude drawing of an angry face.

I ventured into a nearby ruin, smashed, charred and half-filled with garbage. You have no idea who or what might be lurking in these houses.

But don’t laugh at Detroit.  What is happening in Detroit is coming to your area soon enough.

America is in an advanced state of decay.  The number of “outcasts” is going to multiply as more Americans lose their jobs and their homes.  Millions more Americans will be sleeping in their cars, in tent cities or on the streets before this is all over.

The U.S. economy is never going to get back to “normal”.  What we are living through now is the “new normal” and it is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.

Please show compassion to the people around you that are hurting right now.

You never know, as the economy continues to unravel it may be you that needs some compassion soon.

 

20 Facts About Child Hunger And Child Poverty That Will Break Your Heart

Did you know that nearly half of the 44 million Americans that are on food stamps today are children?  Did you know that more than a fifth of all U.S. children are living in poverty and that a fourth of all U.S. children are enrolled in the food stamp program?  Did you know that most of the people that starve to death around the globe are children?  In 2011, child hunger and child poverty are major problems in the United States and they are at epidemic levels in many areas of the world.  The facts that are you are about to read are tough to stomach and they are meant to break your heart.  Most of us need to be touched on an emotional level before we will take action.  As I have written about previously, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis.  Unless a miracle happens, there is not going to be nearly enough food for everyone in the world in the future.  We all need to prepare so that we will be able to feed our own families when that time comes and so that we will be able to be generous and share with others in need.

The food stamp program is the modern equivalent of the old-fashioned bread lines.  Today, the number of Americans on food stamps is absolutely exploding.  Despite claims that the economy is “recovering”, the number of Americans relying on food assistance just continues to increase.

Many food retailers have seen food stamp usage soar to unprecedented levels.  Just check out the following quote from a recent article posted on the website of a local Pennsylvania news station….

“The trend started about three years ago and it has increased significantly we have some stores up 40% from last year,” said Scott Karns owner of seven Karns Supermarkets in central PA.

Sadly, a disproportionate number of those on food stamps are children.  Even as you read this article, there are millions of children in the United States that are wondering where their next meal is going to come from.

The following are 20 facts about child hunger and child poverty that will break your heart….

#1 According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States were living below the poverty line in 2010. In the UK and in France that figure is well under 10 percent.

#2 According to the U.S. Census, the number of children living in poverty has gone up by about 2 million in just the past 2 years.

#3 Today, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#4 It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18.

#5 It is estimated that up to half a million children may currently be homeless in the United States.

#6 More than 44 million Americans are currently on food stamps.  That is an all-time record and that number is 18 million higher than it was back at the beginning of 2007.

#7 48 percent of the 44 million Americans that are now on food stamps are children.

#8 According to Feeding America’s 2010 hunger study, more than 37 million Americans are now being served by food pantries and soup kitchens.

#9 The number of Americans that are going to food pantries and soup kitchens has increased by 46% since 2006.

#10 According to Feeding America, 50.2 million Americans lived in “food insecure households” during 2009.

#11 Even with tens of millions of Americans on food stamps there are still large numbers of Americans that go hungry each night. According to the BBC, 15% of all U.S. households experienced a shortage of food at some point during 2009.

#12 More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry.

#13 One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one government anti-poverty program.

#14 The poorest 50% of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.  Statistically, there are more children in poor households than in wealthy ones.

#15 Child hunger is a major problem all over the world. Approximately 1 billion people around the world go to bed hungry each night.

#16 A lack of food among pregnant women in developing countries results in one out of every 6 babies being born with a low birth weight.

#17 Approximately 28 percent of all children in developing countries are considered to be underweight or have had their growth stunted as a result of malnutrition.

#18 More than 3 billion people, close to half the world’s population, live on less than 2 dollar a day.

#19 Somewhere in the world someone starves to death every 3.6 seconds, and 75 percent of those are children under the age of five.

#20 Almost 9 million children around the world died before they reached their fifth birthday during 2008.  Approximately a third of all of those deaths were attributed to hunger and malnutrition.

Most Americans have traditionally thought of “hunger” as something that happens over in Africa or Asia, but that is simply not the case anymore.

There are tens of millions of Americans that would be going without enough food if it weren’t for the food stamp program, school meal programs, food pantries, soup kitchens and the kindness of religious organizations.

Sadly, as the price of food continues to rise there are tens of millions more Americans that are on fixed incomes or on limited incomes that are going to be facing food insecurity.

The average American now spends approximately 23 percent of his or her income on food and gas.  That is going to rise even higher thanks to all of the new money that the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have pumped into the financial system.

Inflation is a hidden tax that is very cruel.  It hits those with limited resources the hardest.

What are most American families going to do someday when a loaf of bread is 10 dollars and a gallon of milk is 20 dollars?

And it is not just the price of food that is going up.

According to consulting firm Milliman Inc., the average American family of four that is covered by health insurance had an average of $19,393 in health care costs last year.

Many Americans (even if they have insurance) are simply avoiding doctors and avoiding hospitals altogether because they can no longer afford them.

Our whole system is breaking down.  As the economy crumbles, frustration and anger are rising.  As I have written about previously, the number of Americans that have “gone wild” seems to be increasing.

The following are a couple more examples of this phenomenon….

*When things start falling apart, people start going crazy.  Just recently, one man stripped naked while riding a New York city subway.  He hurled racial and ethnic slurs at the people around him and physically harassed a couple of people before a cop was able to wrestle him to the ground.

*Another example of this happened in California just a few days ago.  An elderly woman pulled out a gun and held up a pregnant woman outside of a Kohl’s department store in broad daylight on Mother’s Day.  When old women start shoving guns in our faces and demanding our money that should be a sign to all of us that things really are starting to fall to pieces.

Things are starting to get crazy but this is just the beginning.

Someday when the global economy is in shambles and there is a massive global food crisis, what do you think Americans are going to do when they have been without food for 3 or 4 days and their families are crying out for something to eat?

Don’t think that it won’t happen.  The era of endless amounts of cheap food is coming to an end.  There is going to be a massive amount of hunger and poverty in the years to come.

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

As The Obamas And The Ultra-Wealthy Live The High Life Most Americans Are Going Through Economic Hell

Barack Obama recently made the following statement to American families that are struggling to survive in this economy: “If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, or you might put off a vacation.” A few days after making that statement Obama sent his wife and children off on yet another vacation, this time to a luxury ski hotel in Vail, Colorado.  But the Obamas are not the only ones enjoying the high life.  Wealthy corporate executives and greedy Wall Street fatcats insist that profit margins are too tight to hire more American workers, and yet sales of luxury cars, private jets and vacation homes are soaring.  Meanwhile, most American families are going through economic hell right now.  In 2010, more Americans than ever before were living below the poverty line.  Over 4 million Americans have been unemployed for more than a year, and over 5 million Americans are at least two months behind on their mortgage payments.  As the Obamas and wealthy corporate executives jet off to fancy ski resorts, half of all American workers are earning $505 or less per week and 55 percent of American families are living paycheck to paycheck.  Something is very wrong with this picture.

So is there anything wrong with working hard and enjoying the fruits of success?  Of course not, as long as it was done honestly and not on the backs of the American taxpayers.  But the truth is that many of the corporate executives that are enjoying luxury vacations right now would not even have companies to run if the American taxpayers had not stepped in and bailed them out during the financial crisis.  Thanks to the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve, Wall Street bankers and top corporate executives are once again enjoying bonuses that most of us would consider obscene.

Meanwhile, most of the rest of the country is suffering very deeply.

Over the past several decades, the biggest financial institutions and the biggest corporations have worked really hard to “fix” the rules of the game in their favor.  The truth is that our economy is no longer a “free market” capitalist system.  Rather, what we have now is more accurately described as “corporatism” or “neo-feudalism”.  The big corporations dominate almost everything, and whatever they don’t dominate the government does.

One of the key features of a “corporatist” system is that it tends to funnel all the wealth to the very top.

Back in 1976, the top 1 percent of earners in the United States took in 8.9 percent of all income.  By 2007, that number had risen to 23.5 percent.

Ouch.

There are two different Americas today.  There is the America of the gated communities, the private planes and the good life, and there is the America of declining wages, thrift stores and rising desperation.

What is saddest of all is that the most vulnerable people in society often suffer the most from all of this.

According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States were living below the poverty line in 2010.

Do you think that the Obamas are thinking about any of this while they are enjoying their stay at a luxury ski hotel in Vail, Colorado?

The truth is that leadership is not just about words.  Leadership is about setting an example.

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.

Hey, Barack Obama won the most votes in 2008 and so if he wants his family to get as much enjoyment out of these four years as they can that is his prerogative.

However, if he wants to tell American families that they “might put off a vacation” after all the vacations that the Obamas have taken over the past two years then he is just being a massive hypocrite.

According to the New York Post, Barack Obama enjoyed a total of 10 separate vacations that stretched over a total of 90 vacation days during the years of 2009 and 2010.

During his first two years in office, he also managed to play 29 rounds of golf.

Oh, but it is the rest of us that have to cut back on our vacations.

But it is not just the Obamas that are enjoying the high life right now.

The wealthy have recovered nicely from the “recession” and now they are spending money by the gobs once again.

According to Moody’s Analytics, the wealthiest 5% of households in the United States account for approximately 37% of all consumer spending.

Life is very good in America if you have got enough money.

A recent article in USA Today detailed some of the things that wealthy corporate executives are spending money on in 2011….

Luxury and high-end marketers have picked up on what they hope is a growing trend, offering products that bank on a looming spending spree. Germany’s PG-Bikes is rolling out the $80,000 Black Trail, a battery-powered bicycle. Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille is selling $525,000 timepieces. Steinway has launched a John Lennon-themed grand piano — at $90,000 and up. After selling out a $245,000 model, automaker Porsche is planning the 918 Spyder, a hybrid car that could sell for more than $630,000.

Nearly all luxury brands experienced a resurgence in 2010.  Just check out some of the sales increases for luxury car brands….

Porsche: 29%

Cadillac 36%

Rolls-Royce 171%

At the exact same time, however, life is getting really, really hard for the rest of America.

As I wrote about yesterday, the U.S. middle class continues to be decimated even in the midst of this “economic recovery”.

There are tens of millions of Americans that would like to have a full-time job that are not able to get a full-time job.  The number of Americans on food stamps has gone from about 26 million at the start of 2007 to 43 million today and it continues to set a brand new record every single month.  One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.

Our economy has become a complete and total nightmare.

Over the past couple of days some of the readers of this column have been sharing some of their economic horror stories.  But they are far from alone.  There are literally millions of Americans with economic horror stories out there.  It is just that we don’t get to hear too many stories from the “other America” on our televisions.

The following stories of economic pain are from people just like you and me.  Times are incredibly hard for most of America right now, and they are only getting harder with each passing month….

Colin:

My mother is unemployed. She is 61 years old, has 25 years of experience working for a major telecommunications corporation, and has a four-year degree. I watch her send application after application to employers with no response. I watch her get contacted by recruiters who say she is a ‘perfect fit’ for a job and never deliver. I watch her slide into depression and staying in bed many hours of the day.

I am 38 years old, I have mental illness, and I recently lost my job as a delivery driver because the owner sold his business to a competitor.

I don’t believe that either my mother or I will ever be employed again. I am beginning to feel that I am permanently in the world of the unemployed.

Jeff:

I graduated college in May 2000 with a Bachelors degree in Broadcasting/Minored in History. I have worked for major corporations as an Enterprise Sales Consultant selling Servers. I was a Network Engineer for Qwest Communications. I even worked for the Federal Government and held a Security Clearance for 4 years. I also won Dell Small Business Sales Consultant of the quarter as well. But since I don’t have an active clearance anymore no one wants to hire me in D.C. I lost my job in 07/2010 and from 07/2010-Present I have been unemployed. My food stamps were also recently cut off last month since the State of Virginia decided that for a household of 1 you can’t make more than $1178 a month. I make $1250 a month in Unemployment compensation before taxes so according to the Government I am too rich to receive Food stamps now. My Rent, Gas and Car insurance is $1000 a month and I am holding on for dear life. I am currently in the process of declaring Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and using my tax return to pay the attorney $1500 to file. That leaves me with only #250 a month for food, water and cell phone.

I have a list compiled in my Google email with approximately 784 applications I have filled out for every government agency, defense contractor and job available in the Washington, DC area. I even applied to Carmax and my old job in college waiting tables at red Lobster and the moving company I used to work at during the summers in college. If its bad for someone like me with over 10 years of Sales, Server/computer experience, Investigations and Network Engineering than I can’t imagine how bad it is for people that just have a high school diploma. I have been on one interview out of the almost 1000 jobs I have applied to (It takes about 2 hours to apply to one job). The one interview I went on offered me less than my unemployment gives me at $8 an hour. I can sit at home and make more money on unemployment than 80% of the jobs that I have applied too and even those jobs don’t call me. Is this what America has become? Is this what I sacrificed 5 years of my life in college from 17 years old to 21 years old and spent $40,000 to get a worthless degree that won’t even get you hired?

Todd:

Well, My family has been ripped to shreds alright.

Overall combined (My father, and myself) make about 60k a year. We can barely survive we keep looking to cut things, and make things cheaper but it’s just not working fast enough.

My wife can’t find a job, and now student loans are starting to become issues. (won’t go in to further details).

Tax returns taken, and various other things, Can’t even afford dental care. We don’t even get to go out anymore, and lucky to get any type of snacks. Just so you know there are 5 people living in this house.

Sharonsj:

The only reason I am not out on the street is that when I had money I paid off my mortgage.

However, because I did that, my food stamp allotment is only $25 a month. The heating assistance I get only paid for less than one months’ heat out of the six months I need here in Pennsylvania. All other expenses use up what’s left, so you learn to eat at home; I try not to leave the house because it’s going to cost me money.

I blame Congress for destroying America. They have given tax breaks to themselves and their rich friends at our expense. Did you know that anybody who serves 5 years in Congress gets a FULL pension at age 62? Us peasants work for 45 years and then if we retire at age 62 we are forced to give up 25% of what we earned.

Niles:

I lost my house, my family was split, and all my savings is gone.

I have lost hope. I served in the military, went to college and have high tech skills. My country doesn’t give a ***** about me. The bankers are as evil as the communists and I hate them.

Michael:

I’m also 38, and have worked in IT since the mid 90s. I lost my full time job in April ’03, and have only been able to find short term temporary work since. The contracts started to get shorter and fewer as the years went on, so in spring ’10 I retrained to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) but have not been able to find work in the last 9 months. An ambulance company I applied with said that they have hundreds of applications in several Northern CA counties but no job openings. And health care jobs are supposed to be on the the only areas of growth. I deliver pizzas for cash on and off and am getting unemployment.

Mondobeyondo:

I lost track of how many resumes I’ve sent out during the past several months. My neighbors think I’m trying to win the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes or something (yeah, that would help too! Ha!)

Maybe I should go back to school and become an RLP (Rejection Letter Professional).

Dorothy:

The rent at the place I lived was so high that I couldn’t afford it on a school bus driver’s salary, which I was doing for the past few years, because in spite of 30 years clerical experience, where I performed every function from clerk typist to executive legal secretary, I could not find employment. So I applied for subsidized housing and was forced to move back to Chicago, where the crime rate is very high in certain areas.

Before I moved I was getting $200 in food stamps, but now that I am in subsidized housing, I have to go and reapply and if I get anything at all, I have heard that it will be about $52 a month! Although the rent is subsidized, I have to pay for my own heat, and the building in which I live is completely electric! Energy assistance doesn’t cover it. They give with one hand and take away with the other.

All of the people above are still “surviving”, but what do you think is going to happen to many of them as the cost of living goes up dramatically?  Brent crude just hit $108 a barrel and the UN says that the global price of food recently hit a new all-time high.

Americans on fixed incomes or that are on government assistance are going to be absolutely devastated if prices for basics such as food and gas rise substantially.

Not only that, but budget cuts on the federal, state and local levels are also going to hurt many of these people deeply.

But this is where we are at as a nation.  A small privileged class is enjoying the high life while a rapidly growing poverty class pleads for the government to toss them some more crumbs.

The American people deserve better than this.  They deserve an economy that will provide them with good jobs which will enable them to pay their mortgages and feed their families.

Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is dying.  The number of good jobs is actually declining.  The middle class is being systematically wiped out.

The answer is not to “tax the rich” so that we can toss the rapidly growing poverty class a few more crumbs.  The answer is to radically transform our economy back into the kind of economy our founding fathers originally intended.

But wealthy corporate executives and politicians such as Barack Obama are not going to have any of that.  Those sitting on top don’t want any real change to happen.  Sadly, the general population has become so dumbed-down that they don’t even know the questions that they should be asking.

So unfortunately it appears we are going to keep heading down the exact same economic path that we have been heading for decades.  The middle class will keep being ripped apart and politicians like George W. Bush and Barack Obama will just keep on smiling.

The Economic Collapse