21 Facts About America’s Decaying Infrastructure That Will Blow Your Mind

You can tell a lot about a nation by the condition of the infrastructure.  So what does our infrastructure say about us?  It says that we are in a very advanced state of decay.  At this point, much of America is being held together with spit, duct tape and prayers.  Our roads are crumbling and thousands of our bridges look like they could collapse at any moment.  Our power grid is ancient and over a trillion gallons of untreated sewage is leaking from our aging sewer systems each year.  Our airports and our seaports are clogged with far more traffic than they were ever designed to carry.  Approximately a third of all of the dam failures that have taken place in the United States since 1874 have happened during the past decade.  Our national parks and recreation areas have been terribly neglected and our railroads are a bad joke.  Hurricane Katrina showed how vulnerable our levees are, and drinking water systems all over the country are badly outdated.  Sadly, at a time when we could use significant new investment in infrastructure, our spending on infrastructure is actually way down.  Back during the 50s and the 60s, the U.S. was spending between 3 and 4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Today, that figure is down to about 2.4 percent.  But of course we don’t have any extra money to spend on infrastructure because of our reckless spending and because of the massive amount of debt that we have accumulated.  While the Obama administration is spending more than half a million dollars to figure out why chimpanzees throw poop, our national infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us.  Once upon a time nobody else on the planet could match our infrastructure, and now we are in the process of becoming a joke to the rest of the world.

The following are 21 facts about America’s failing infrastructure that will blow your mind….

#1 The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s crumbling infrastructure an overall grade of D.

#2 There are simply not enough roads in the United States today.  Each year, traffic jams cost the commuters of America 4.2 billion hours and about 2.8 million gallons of gasoline.

#3 It is being projected that Americans will spend an average of 160 hours stuck in traffic annually by the year 2035.

#4 Approximately one-third of all roads in the United States are in substandard condition.

#5 Close to a third of all highway fatalities are due “to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.”

#6 One out of every four bridges in America either carries more traffic than originally intended or is in need of repair.

#7 Repairing all of the bridges in the United States that need repair would take approximately 140 billion dollars.

#8 According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our decaying transportation system costs the U.S. economy about 78 billion dollars annually in lost time and fuel.

#9 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel roads because they are cheaper to maintain.  The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt roads into gravel roads, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.

#10 There are 4,095 dams in the United States that are at risk of failure.  That number has risen by more than 100 percent since 1999.

#11 Of all the dam failures that have happened in the United States since 1874, a third of them have happened during the past decade.

#12 Close to half of all U.S. households do not have access to bus or rail transit.

#13 Our aging sewer systems spill more than a trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year.  The cost of cleaning up that sewage each year is estimated to be greater than 50 billion dollars.

#14 It is estimated that rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost the U.S. economy approximately 80 billion dollars a year.

#15 It is being projected that by the year 2020 every single major container port in the United States will be handling at least double the volume that it was originally designed to handle.

#16 All across the United States, conditions at many of our state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best.  Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long….

More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.

#17 Today, the U.S. spends about 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Meanwhile, China spends about 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure.

#18 In the United States today, approximately 16 percent of our construction workers are unemployed.

#19 China has plans to build 55,000 miles of highways by the year 2020.  If all of those roads were put end to end, it would be longer than the total length of the entire U.S. interstate system.

#20 The World Economic Forum ranks U.S. infrastructure 23rd in the world, and we fall a little bit farther behind the rest of the developed world every single day.

#21 It has been projected that it would take 2.2 trillion dollars over the next 5 years just to repair our existing infrastructure.  That does not even include a single penny for badly needed new infrastructure.

So where did we go wrong?

Well, one of the big problems is that we have become a very materialistic society that is obsessed with short-term thinking.  Investing in infrastructure is something that has long-term benefits, but these days Americans tend to only be focused on what is happening right now and most politicians are only focused on the next election cycle.

Another major problem is that there is so much corruption and waste in our system these days.  The government certainly spends more than enough money, but very little of that money is spent wisely.  A lot of the money that could be going toward rebuilding our infrastructure is being poured down the toilet instead.  For much more on this, please read my previous article entitled “16 Sickening Facts That Show How Members Of Congress And Federal Workers Are Living The High Life At Your Expense“.

Unfortunately, it is probably appropriate that our infrastructure is decaying because we are decaying in just about every other way that it is possible for a society to decay.

We are decaying economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, physically, morally and spiritually.

We are a complete and total mess.  So why shouldn’t what is happening to our infrastructure on the outside match what is happening to us as a nation on the inside?

And sadly, we simply do not have the money that we need for infrastructure because of all the debt that we have piled up.  The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are all struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of red ink, and unfortunately that means that spending on infrastructure is likely to be cut even more in the years ahead.

So get used to rotting, crumbling, decaying infrastructure.  What you see out there right now is only just the beginning.

The 2 Billion Dollar Loss By JP Morgan Is Just A Preview Of The Coming Collapse Of The Derivatives Market

When news broke of a 2 billion dollar trading loss by JP Morgan, much of the financial world was absolutely stunned.  But the truth is that this is just the beginning.  This is just a very small preview of what is going to happen when we see the collapse of the worldwide derivatives market.  When most Americans think of Wall Street, they think of a bunch of stuffy bankers trading stocks and bonds.  But over the past couple of decades it has evolved into much more than that.  Today, Wall Street is the biggest casino in the entire world.  When the “too big to fail” banks make good bets, they can make a lot of money.  When they make bad bets, they can lose a lot of money, and that is exactly what just happened to JP Morgan.  Their Chief Investment Office made a series of trades which turned out horribly, and it resulted in a loss of over 2 billion dollars over the past 40 days.  But 2 billion dollars is small potatoes compared to the vast size of the global derivatives market.  It has been estimated that the the notional value of all the derivatives in the world is somewhere between 600 trillion dollars and 1.5 quadrillion dollars.  Nobody really knows the real amount, but when this derivatives bubble finally bursts there is not going to be nearly enough money on the entire planet to fix things.

Sadly, a lot of mainstream news reports are not even using the word “derivatives” when they discuss what just happened at JP Morgan.  This morning I listened carefully as one reporter described the 2 billion dollar loss as simply a “bad bet”.

And perhaps that is easier for the American people to understand.  JP Morgan made a series of really bad bets and during a conference call last night CEO Jamie Dimon admitted that the strategy was “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored”.

The funny thing is that JP Morgan is considered to be much more “risk averse” than most other major Wall Street financial institutions are.

So if this kind of stuff is happening at JP Morgan, then what in the world is going on at some of these other places?

That is a really good question.

For those interested in the technical details of the 2 billion dollar loss, an article posted on CNBC described exactly how this loss happened….

The failed hedge likely involved a bet on the flattening of a credit derivative curve, part of the CDX family of investment grade credit indices, said two sources with knowledge of the industry, but not directly involved in the matter. JPMorgan was then caught by sharp moves at the long end of the bet, they said. The CDX index gives traders exposure to credit risk across a range of assets, and gets its value from a basket of individual credit derivatives.

In essence, JP Morgan made a series of bets which turned out very, very badly.  This loss was so huge that it even caused members of Congress to take note.  The following is from a statement that U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a few hours after this news first broke….

“The enormous loss JPMorgan announced today is just the latest evidence that what banks call ‘hedges’ are often risky bets that so-called ‘too big to fail’ banks have no business making.”

Unfortunately, the losses from this trade may not be over yet.  In fact, if things go very, very badly the losses could end up being much larger as a recent Zero Hedge article detailed….

Simple: because it knew with 100% certainty that if things turn out very, very badly, that the taxpayer, via the Fed, would come to its rescue. Luckily, things turned out only 80% bad. Although it is not over yet: if credit spreads soar, assuming at $200 million DV01, and a 100 bps move, JPM could suffer a $20 billion loss when all is said and done. But hey: at least “net” is not “gross” and we know, just know, that the SEC will get involved and make sure something like this never happens again.

And yes, the SEC has announced an “investigation” into this 2 billion dollar loss.  But we all know that the SEC is basically useless.  In recent years SEC employees have become known more for watching pornography in their Washington D.C. offices than for regulating Wall Street.

But what has become abundantly clear is that Wall Street is completely incapable of policing itself.  This point was underscored in a recent commentary by Henry Blodget of Business Insider….

Wall Street can’t be trusted to manage—or even correctly assess—its own risks.

This is in part because, time and again, Wall Street has demonstrated that it doesn’t even KNOW what risks it is taking.

In short, Wall Street bankers are just a bunch of kids playing with dynamite.

There are two reasons for this, neither of which boil down to “stupidity.”

  • The first reason is that the gambling instruments the banks now use are mind-bogglingly complicated. Warren Buffett once described derivatives as “weapons of mass destruction.” And those weapons have gotten a lot more complex in the past few years.
  • The second reason is that Wall Street’s incentive structure is fundamentally flawed: Bankers get all of the upside for winning bets, and someone else—the government or shareholders—covers the downside.

The second reason is particularly insidious. The worst thing that can happen to a trader who blows a huge bet and demolishes his firm—literally the worst thing—is that he will get fired. Then he will immediately go get a job at a hedge fund and make more than he was making before he blew up the firm.

We never learned one of the basic lessons that we should have learned from the financial crisis of 2008.

Wall Street bankers take huge risks because the risk/reward ratio is all messed up.

If the bankers make huge bets and they win, then they win big.

If the bankers make huge bets and they lose, then the federal government uses taxpayer money to clean up the mess.

Under those kind of conditions, why not bet the farm?

Sadly, most Americans do not even know what derivatives are.

Most Americans have no idea that we are rapidly approaching a horrific derivatives crisis that is going to make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

According to the Comptroller of the Currency, the “too big to fail” banks have exposure to derivatives that is absolutely mind blowing.  Just check out the following numbers from an official U.S. government report….

JPMorgan Chase – $70.1 Trillion

Citibank – $52.1 Trillion

Bank of America – $50.1 Trillion

Goldman Sachs – $44.2 Trillion

So a 2 billion dollar loss for JP Morgan is nothing compared to their total exposure of over 70 trillion dollars.

Overall, the 9 largest U.S. banks have a total of more than 200 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  That is approximately 3 times the size of the entire global economy.

It is hard for the average person on the street to begin to comprehend how immense this derivatives bubble is.

So let’s not make too much out of this 2 billion dollar loss by JP Morgan.

This is just chicken feed.

This is just a preview of coming attractions.

Soon enough the real problems with derivatives will begin, and when that happens it will shake the entire global financial system to the core.

Sheeple: Government Handouts = 35 Percent Of U.S. Wages But For Michael Moore That Is Not Nearly Enough

The ratio of government handouts to wages and salaries in the United States is now at an all-time high.  According to TrimTabs Investment Research, government handouts have reached a level that is equivalent to 35 percent of all wages and salaries in the United States.  Considering the fact that this figure was only 21 percent back in the year 2000 and only 10 percent back in 1960 that is very frightening.  The sad truth is that today the American people are more dependent on direct government payments than they ever have been before.  What this does is that it takes formerly independent Americans and transforms them into “sheeple” and pets of the government.  Today we have tens of millions of Americans that eagerly await the crumbs that the federal government tosses them each month.  This is one reason why our national debt is exploding, but our politicians like this system because it enables them to buy votes.  Meanwhile, the federal government and the international corporations that dominate our economy have rigged the game so that power and money are becoming increasingly centralized in their hands.  As a result of the system that the “big boys” have developed, millions of small businesses across the country are being absolutely crushed, the standard of living of the middle class is gradually being destroyed and more American families slip into poverty ever single day.  What we need to do is to dramatically reduce the power of both the federal government and the big corporations so that small businesses and individuals can thrive once again, but instead “activists” such as Michael Moore are out there demanding even more taxes and even more government handouts.

Not that a “safety net” is a bad thing.  We simply are not going to allow tens of millions of Americans to starve out in our streets.  However, it has gotten to the point where the majority of American families are now dependent on the U.S. government in one form or another and that is very, very wrong.

More government handouts are never a long-term solution to anything.  Handouts do not give people dignity.  Handouts do not teach people to be independent.  Handouts do not enable people to live the “American Dream”.  Handouts are not the path to prosperity.

What the American people need are jobs and an environment where small businesses can thrive.  But instead, the federal government has allowed the big global corporations to ship millions of our jobs out of the country and the federal government continues to burden our small businesses with an endless array of new taxes and regulations.

Who is successful in America today?

It is the big boys.  Everyone else is being crushed.

This is what the founding fathers tried to warn us about.  They did not want the federal government to have much power at all, and they were deeply suspicious of large corporations.

But we have turned our backs on the principles of the founding fathers.

We should be figuring out how to get back to the America that our founding fathers originally tried to create, but instead all of the attention is being given to “activists” such as Michael Moore who are calling for even more taxes and even more government handouts.  The following video is of Michael Moore giving a speech to protesters in Madison, Wisconsin on March 5th, 2011.  His speech was entitled “America Is Not Broke”….

Yes, the “little guy” is being absolutely crushed in America today.  But for people like Michael Moore the solution is always to tax the middle class more and to pass out even more government handouts.

That isn’t going to solve anything.  Most of the ultra-wealthy have turned avoiding taxes into an art form.  A third of all the wealth in the world is now held in “offshore banks“.  Many of our largest corporations don’t pay a dime in federal taxes even as they pass out multi-million dollar bonuses to their executives.

Raising taxes in most definitely not the answer.  Those that have mastered the art of avoiding taxes will continue to do so no matter how high you raise them.

The truth is that we need to shut down the IRS and scrap the current tax system entirely.  It simply does not work.

What we need to do is to get the federal government and the big corporations under control and transfer the power back to the American people.

That is what our founding fathers intended.  They intended for the common man to be empowered  to start businesses, create wealth and pursue happiness.

But instead tens of millions of Americans have become addicted to government handouts.  When large numbers of people give up and willingly become wards of the government that is not good for society.

Unfortunately, more Americans today are dependent on the U.S. government than ever before.  Just consider the following statistics….

-According to TrimTabs Investment Research, social welfare benefits in the United States have risen by $514 billion over the past two years alone.

-As 2007 began, only about 26 million Americans were on food stamps, but today over 44 million Americans are now on food stamps.

-Over 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid.

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

53 million Americans received $703 billion in Social Security benefits in 2010.

-Right now the U.S. government is either writing or guaranteeing well over 90 percent of all mortgages in the United States.

-It is being projected that extended unemployment benefits will cost the federal government $34 billion over the next two years.

-30 U.S. states have borrowed a total of $41.5 billion from the federal government just so that they could continue paying out unemployment benefits during the recession.

-Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare now account for 58% of all U.S. government spending.

But what else should we expect?  The federal government has been using a sledgehammer to endlessly pound away on the capacity of small businesses and individuals to create wealth and jobs and opportunities.  The business atmosphere in the United States is now so toxic that it is amazing that any small businesses have survived.

Most Americans find themselves with no other way to make a living other than to work for someone else.  But the big global corporations have discovered that they can make much larger profits by getting rid of American workers and by shipping our jobs overseas and our politicians are allowing them to get away with it.

The truth is that both political parties don’t have the answers.  Neither party seems to have any clue about how to stop millions of jobs from leaving the United States and neither party seems to have any clue about how to create a business environment inside the United States where individuals and small businesses can actually thrive.

How much longer will it be before we all finally admit that we are experiencing total system failure in this country?  Should we all just quit trying and sit on our couches waiting for the next government handout?  The truth is that there aren’t nearly enough jobs for all Americans anyway.

The middle class is dying and the establishment has us all fighting with each other.  The left and the right are busy fighting about taxes and budget cuts while the ultra-wealthy continue to enjoy massive profits and incredibly low taxes in the globalized economic system that we have allowed our politicians to create.

Yes, there are tens of millions of Americans that are deeply suffering right now and they need to be helped.

But government handouts are never a long-term solution to anything.  What we need to do is to massively reduce the power of the federal government, massively reduce the power of the big corporations and stop businesses and jobs from being shipped out of the country.  We also need to create an environment in the United States that is very favorable to small businesses.  That would give our country a chance to start creating good jobs again.

But instead, we continue to allow our politicians to destroy our economy.  We actually have 10 percent fewer middle class jobs in this country than we did just ten years ago.  The middle class is being systematically destroyed.  All of the wealth and all of the power are slowly being transferred into the hands of big government and the big corporations.

The vast majority of the rest of us are being transformed from strong, independent, prosperous Americans into dehumanized sheeple that can’t wait for the next government check to come in.

Does anyone out there actually believe that this is what our founding fathers originally intended?

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