Broken Promises: Pensions All Over America Are Being Savagely Cut Or Are Vanishing Completely

How would you feel if you worked for a state or local government for 20 or 30 years only to have your pension slashed dramatically or taken away entirely?  Well, this exact scenario is playing out from coast to coast and in the years ahead millions of elderly Americans are going to be affected by broken promises and vanishing pensions.  In the old days, things were much different.  You would get hired by a big company or a government institution and you knew that the retirement benefits that they were promising you would be there when you retired in a few decades.  Unfortunately, we have now arrived at a time when government institutions and big companies have promised far more than they are able to deliver, and “pension reform” has become one of the hot button issues all over the nation.  Many Americans that have been basing their financial futures on their pensions are waking up one day and finding that their pensions are either gone or have been cut back dramatically.  According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the latest estimate of the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for state and local governments across the United States is 4.4 trillion dollars.  America is continually becoming a poorer nation and all of that money is simply not going to magically materialize somehow.  So where is that 4.4 trillion dollars going to come from?  Well, either pension benefits are going to have to be cut a lot more all over America or taxes will need to be raised dramatically.  Either way, we are all going to feel the pain of these broken promises.

There simply is not enough money out there to keep all of the pension commitments that have been made.  Something has got to give.  In the end, millions of elderly Americans will likely be plunged into poverty as pensions disappear.

Some local governments around the nation are already declaring bankruptcy and are either eliminating pensions or are cutting them very deeply.  Just check out what just happened in Central Falls, Rhode Island….

For years, city officials promised robust union contracts and pensions without raising revenue to pay for them. Last August, the math caught up with them. Central Falls was broke, its pension fund short $46 million. It declared bankruptcy.

“My daughters grew up here, went to school here. It’s all gone,” said Mike Geoffroy, a retired firefighter.

He said he could not make the payments on his house after his pension was cut by $1,100 a month.

When will the math catch up with the city where you are living?

For years and years most of our state and local politicians have been ignoring this problem.  But eventually a day comes when you simply cannot ignore it any longer.

Check out what Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward said about the situation in his city recently….

“When our annual pension liability is more than our yearly property tax revenues, we have to do something”

Keep in mind that taxpayers don’t get any new services for money spent on pensions.  It is money that goes straight into the pockets of retired workers.  State and local governments are desperately trying to pay retired workers what they are owed and fund ongoing government functions at the same time, but many have reached the breaking point.

All over the country, state and local governments are going broke.  The following is from a recent article by Duff McDonald….

Alabama’s Jefferson County has actually gone bankrupt. Stockton, California is all but ready to do the same. And all you have to do is look to Detroit—or any of the nearby auto towns named after a Buick model of one sort or another—and you see fiscal crisis playing out right now. Look in your own backyard—or at the potholes on your neighborhood roads—and you will likely find the same.

Things are so bad in Stockton, California that they are actually skipping debt payments….

The city of 290,000 that rode the wave of the housing boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s now finds itself littered with foreclosed homes, saddled with pension, health care and other obligations it can’t afford, and unable to pay its bills.

The City Council voted last month to suspend $2 million in bond payments and begin negotiations with bond holders, creditors and unions.

And did you notice what is being blamed for the financial problems in Stockton?

Pension and healthcare benefits.

Sadly, we are seeing pension nightmares erupt all over the nation right now.

For example, check out what is happening to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System and State Employees’ Retirement System in Pennsylvania….

PSERS had an accrued unfunded liability of nearly $26.5 billion, the amount of money the fund is short to cover existing retirement benefits. That hole is expected to grow to $43 billion by 2019. SERS is $12.5 billion in the red, and that shortfall is expected to climb to nearly $18 billion by 2018. Unless the stock market makes giant sustained gains, taxpayers will have to refill those funds.

That doesn’t sound good at all.

In California, the Orange County Employees Retirement System is estimated to have a 10 billion dollar unfunded pension liability.

How in the world can a single county be facing a 10 billion dollar hole?

This is madness.

The state of Illinois is facing an unfunded pension liability of more than 77 billion dollars.  Considering the fact that the state of Illinois is flat broke and on the verge of default, it is inevitable that a lot of those pension obligations will never be paid.

In fact, there are going to be a whole lot of broken promises all over the country.

Pension consultant Girard Miller told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities.

That comes to about $22,000 for every single working adult in the state of California.

So where is all of that money going to come from?

But at least most state and local government employees are still covered by pension plans, even if they are failing.

In the private sector, pension plans are vanishing at lightning speed.

According to the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, the percentage of workers in America covered by a traditional pension plan fell from 62 percent in 1983 to 17 percent in 2007.

That isn’t just a trend.

That is a tidal wave.

And many of the private pension plans that still exist are massively underfunded.  For example, Verizon’s pension plan is underfunded by 3.4 billion dollars.

So what should Americans do in light of all this?

Well, the number one thing to realize is that the pension plan you have been counting on could disappear at any time.

We live in an economic environment that is extremely unstable, and about the only thing you can count on in this environment is rapid and dramatic change.

Do not plan your financial future around a pension plan.  If you do, you are likely to be bitterly disappointed.

Americans that plan to retire in the coming years should do their best to try to fund their own retirements.

Unfortunately, most Americans are not putting away much of anything for retirement.  As I have written about previously, one study found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

Ouch.

Over the next 20 years approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers will be retiring every single day.

A lot of them are going to be blindsided by empty pension funds and broken promises.

We are facing a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and there is not much hope in sight.

And if there is a major stock market crash, things are going to be much, much worse.

Most pension funds and retirement plans are heavily invested in the stock market.  If we were to see a major financial crisis like we saw back in 2008 it would be absolutely devastating.  Millions of Americans could see their retirement plans wiped out in short order.

Once again, please do not place your faith in the system.

If you do, you are likely to end up holding a bag of broken promises.

A gigantic tsunami of unfunded pension obligations is coming.  A lot of state and local governments are going to go broke.  A lot of promises are going to be broken.

If you hope to retire any time soon, you better plan on being able to take care of yourself.

25 Bitter And Painful Facts About The Coming Baby Boomer Retirement Crisis That Will Blow Your Mind

For decades we were warned that when the Baby Boomers started to retire that this country would be facing a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude.  Well, that day has arrived ladies and gentlemen.  Back on January 1st, the Baby Boomers began to retire and more than 10,000 of them will be retiring every single day for years to come.  Most of them have not saved up nearly enough money for retirement.  At the same time, private sector pension plans are failing all over the place, hundreds of state and local government pension plans from coast to coast are woefully underfunded, and the Social Security system is on the road to complete and total disaster.  A massive wave of humanity is hitting retirement age at a moment in history when the U.S. economy is coming apart at the seams.  We do not have the resources to keep the promises that we made to the Baby Boomers, and most of them have not made adequate preparations for retirement.  What we have is a gigantic mess on our hands, and millions of Baby Boomers are going to find retirement to be very bitter and very painful.

A lot of younger Americans just assume that Social Security is enough to take care of the needs of elderly Americans.  But that is just not the case.

Have you ever tried to live solely on a Social Security check?

It is not easy.  The truth is that those checks are just not that large.

The following comes directly from the Social Security Administration….

The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,177 at the beginning of 2011.

Could you live on less than 300 dollars a week?

And keep in mind that the $1,177 monthly figure is just an average.  Many receive a lot less than that.

In addition, Social Security benefits have been seriously squeezed by inflation in recent years.  The cost of food and other basics has risen briskly and Social Security benefits have not.

Today, many elderly Americans have to make a choice between buying food, heating their homes or buying medicine that they need.  They simply do not have enough money to do all of them.

It would have been nice if all of the Baby Boomers had been busy saving money for retirement all these years, but that just did not happen.  In fact, the Baby Boomers as a group are trillions of dollars short of what they need for retirement.

So why doesn’t the U.S. government step in to help them out?

Well, the reality of the situation is that the U.S. government is flat broke.  The federal government is now over 15 trillion dollars in debt.  During the Obama administration so far, the U.S. government has accumulated more new debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

Lawmakers are already looking at ways to make the Social Security program less costly.  No, the federal government is not going to be riding to the rescue.

In fact, it will be a minor miracle if the Social Security program is able to survive until the end of this decade, and it will be a major miracle if the Social Security program is able to survive until 2030.

As for myself, I do not believe that I will ever see a single penny from Social Security, and many other working age Americans feel the same way.

Retirement is supposed to be a fun time, but sadly most Americans that are approaching retirement age are not going to have any “golden years” to look forward to.

Rather, millions of elderly Americans are going to find the years ahead absolutely agonizing as they struggle just to survive.

The following are 25 bitter and painful facts about the coming Baby Boomer retirement crisis that will blow your mind….

#1 According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.

#2 According to a recent poll conducted by Americans for Secure Retirement, 88 percent of all Americans are worried about “maintaining a comfortable standard of living in retirement”.  Last year, that figure was at 73 percent.

#3 A study conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research has found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

#4 Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.

#5 On January 1st, 2011 the very first Baby Boomers started to retire.  For almost the next 20 years, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers will be retiring every single day.

#6 At the moment, only about 13 percent of all Americans are 65 years of age or older.  By 2030, that number will soar to 18 percent.

#7 Right now, there are somewhere around 40 million senior citizens.  By 2050 that number is projected to increase to 89 million.

#8 Back in 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65.  Today, that number has declined to 23 percent.

#9 According to one recent survey, 74 percent of American workers expect to continue working once they are “retired”.

#10 According to a recent AARP survey of Baby Boomers, 40 percent of them plan to work “until they drop”.

#11 A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.

#12 A study by a law professor at the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States.  Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.

#13 Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.

#14 What is causing most of these bankruptcies among the elderly?  The number one cause is medical bills.  According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States.  Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.

#15 Public retirement funds all over the United States are woefully underfunded.  For example, it has been reported that the $33.7 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System is 61% underfunded and is on the verge of complete collapse.

#16 Most U.S. states have huge pension obligations which threaten to bankrupt them.  For example, pension consultant Girard Miller told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities.  When you break that down, it comes to $22,000 for every single working adult in the state of California.

#17 Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management have calculated the combined pension liability for all 50 U.S. states.  What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds.  That is a difference of 3.2 trillion dollars.  So where in the world is all of that extra money going to come from?

#18 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.  Sadly, in the years ahead these “Social Security deficits” are scheduled to become absolutely nightmarish as hordes of Baby Boomers retire.

#19 In 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 U.S. workers.  According to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now only 1.75 full-time private sector workers for each person that is receiving Social Security benefits in the United States.

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

#21 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.  In the years ahead expenses related to Social Security and Medicare are projected to skyrocket dramatically.

#22 The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is the agency of the federal government that pays monthly retirement benefits to hundreds of thousands of retirees that were covered under defined benefit pension plans that failed.  The retirement crisis has barely even begun and the PBGC is already dead broke.  The PBGC says that it ran a deficit of $26 billion during the fiscal year that just ended and that it will probably need a huge bailout from the federal government.

#23 According to a survey by careerbuilder.com, 36 percent of all Americans say that they don’t contribute anything at all to retirement savings.

#24 More than 30 percent of all investors in the United States that are currently in their sixties have more than 80 percent of their 401k plans invested in equities.  So what is going to happen to them if the stock market crashes?

#25 A survey taken earlier this year found that 20 percent of all U.S. workers admitted that they had postponed their planned retirement age at least once during the last 12 months.  Back in 2008, that number was only at 14 percent.

Our politicians should have addressed the retirement crisis decades ago before we got to the point of being in debt up to our eyeballs.

It is being projected that the U.S. national debt will hit 344% of GDP by the year 2050, and the Congressional Budget Office says that U.S. government debt held by the public will reach a staggering 716% of GDP by the year 2080.

Obviously those figures will never be reached because our financial system would totally collapse long before then.

So what do we do?

We have tens of millions of elderly Americans that are completely and totally dependent on Social Security and Medicare, but those programs also threaten to bankrupt us as a nation.

Anyone that believes that there is a “quick fix” to these issues is being naive.

The “supercommittee” was supposed to address this problem, but they failed so spectacularly that they have become a national joke.

Sadly, most of our politicians just keep kicking the can down the road.  They hope that somehow things will just magically “work out”.

Well, the truth is that things are not going to “work out”.  The poverty level among the elderly is going to continue to increase.  Pension plans all over this nation are going to continue to fail in staggering numbers.  Social Security and Medicare are going to bleed more red ink with each passing year.

Something should have been done about this problem a long, long time ago.

But it wasn’t.

This crisis was ignored, dealing with it was put off time after time and all the doomsayers were laughed at.

Now the crisis is here, and we are all going to pay the price.

What Is Outsourcing?

Once upon a time in America, virtually anyone with a high school education and the willingness to work hard could get a good job.  Fifty years ago a “good job” would enable someone to own a home, buy a car, take a couple of vacations a year and retire with a decent pension.  Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  Every single year the number of “good jobs” in the United States actually shrinks even as our population continues to grow.  Where in the world did all of those good jobs go?  Economists toss around terms such as “outsourcing” and “offshoring” to describe what is happening, but most ordinary Americans don’t really grasp what those terms mean.  So what is outsourcing?  Well, it essentially means sending work somewhere else.  In the context of this article I will be using those terms to describe the thousands of manufacturing facilities and the millions of jobs that have been sent overseas.  Over the past several decades, the U.S. economy has become increasingly merged into the emerging “one world economy”.  Thanks to the WTO, NAFTA and a whole host of other “free trade” agreements, the internationalist dream of a truly “global marketplace” is closer than ever before.

But for American workers, a “global marketplace” is really bad news.  In the United States, businesses are subject to a vast array of very complex laws, rules and regulations that make it very difficult to operate in this country.  That makes it very tempting for corporations to simply move out of the U.S. in order to avoid all of the hassle.

In addition, the United States now has the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world.  This also provides great motivation for corporations to move operations outside of the country.

The biggest thing affecting American workers, however, is the fact that labor has now become a global commodity.  U.S. workers have now been merged into a global labor pool.  Americans must now directly compete for jobs with hundreds of millions of desperate people willing to work for slave labor wages on the other side of the globe.

So exactly how is an American worker supposed to compete with a highly motivated person on the other side of the planet that makes $1.50 an hour with essentially no benefits?

Just think about it.

If you were a big global corporation, would you want to hire American workers which would cost you 10 or 20 times more after everything is factored in?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why millions of jobs have been leaving the United States.

Corporations love to make more money.  Many of them will not hesitate for an instant to pay slave labor wages if they can get away with it.  The bottom line for most corporations is to maximize shareholder wealth.

Slowly but surely the number of good jobs in the United States is shrinking and those jobs are being sent to places where labor is cheaper.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. multinational corporations added 2.4 million new jobs overseas during the first decade of this century.  But during that same time frame U.S. multinational corporations cut a total of 2.9 million jobs inside the United States.

So where are all of our jobs going?

They are going to places like China.

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

In addition, over 40,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been closed permanently during the past decade.

What do you think is eventually going to happen if the U.S. economy continues to bleed jobs and factories so badly?

As the U.S. has faltered, China has become an absolute economic powerhouse.

Ten years ago, the U.S. economy was three times as large as the Chinese economy.  At the turn of the century the United States accounted for well over 20 percent of global GDP and China accounted for significantly less than 10 percent of global GDP.  But since that time our share of global GDP has been steadily declining and China’s share has been steadily rising.

According to the IMF, China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016.

Should we all celebrate when that happens?

Should we all chant “We’re Number 2”?

Our economy is falling to pieces and the competition for the few remaining good jobs has become super intense.

The average American family is having a really tough time right now.  Only 45.4% of Americans had a job during 2010.  The last time the employment level was that low was back in 1983.

Not only that, only 66.8% of American men had a job last year.  That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in all of U.S. history.

Just think about that.

33.2% of American men do not have jobs.

And that figure is going to continue to rise unless something is done about these economic trends.

Today, there are 10% fewer “middle class jobs” in the United States than there were a decade ago.  Tens of millions of Americans have been forced to take “whatever they can get”.  A lot of very hard working people are basically working for peanuts at this point.  In fact, half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

Things have gotten so bad that tens of thousands of people showed up for the National Hiring Day that McDonald’s just held.  With the economy such a mess, flipping burgers or welcoming people to Wal-Mart are jobs that suddenly don’t look so bad.

Right now America is rapidly losing high paying jobs and they are being replaced by low paying jobs.  According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries accounted for 40 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months but only 14 percent of the job growth.  Lower wage industries accounted for just 23 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months and a whopping 49 percent of the job growth.

Thanks to the emerging one world economy, the U.S. is “transitioning” from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.

But it certainly doesn’t help that China is using every trick in the book to steal our industries.  China openly subsidizes domestic industries, they brazenly steal technology and they manipulate currency rates.

A recent article on Economy In Crisis described how the Chinese paper industry has been able to grow by threefold over the past decade while the U.S. paper industry has fallen apart….

From 2002 to 2009, the Chinese government poured $33.1 billion into what should be an unproductive industry. But, with the help of government subsidies, China was able to ride export-driven growth to become the world’s leading producer of paper products.

In the same time frame that China pumped $33 billion into its paper industry, U.S. employment in the industry fell 29 percent, from 557,000 workers to just 398,000.

So why should we be concerned about all of this?

Well, just open up your eyes.  As I have written about previously, our formerly great cities are being transformed into post-apocalyptic hellholes.

In a comment to a recent article, Trucker Mark described what he has seen happen to the “rust belt” over the past several decades….

I am a product of Detroit’s northwest suburbs and the Cleveland, OH area, where together I lived almost 2/3rds of my 54 years. As a 30-year semi driver, I am intimately familiar with large areas of the industrial Midwest, the Northeast, and even much of central and southern California, and everything in-between. I am also college-educated, in Urban Planning and Economics. What has happened to not just Detroit, but to virtually every city in the southern half of Lower Michigan and northern Ohio is mind-boggling. When I was 18, it was quite common to head over to a car plant and get hired immediately into a middle-class job. At one time I had dozens of friends from school working at car plants, dozens more in other large factories, dozens more in major grocery warehousing and distribution, and me, I was a semi driver delivering to all of those places. Between 1979, when I started driving semis, and now, I must have seen 10s of thousands of factories across just the southern Great Lakes region close their doors. Some of them were small, and some of them employed 10,000 workers or more.

The former Packard plant from your photo closed in 1957, and at one time it employed 12,000 workers, and my roommate in 1982 in Birmingham, MI had been laid-off from the old Dodge Main plant in Hamtramck, which once employed over 20,000 workers, which closed in 1981. In 1970 just Chrysler had over 40 plants in the Detroit-area, and now there are just 11 left open. The Willow Run plant, which at one time turned-out a brand-new B-29 bomber every 40 minutes, and employed 50,000 workers, is long dead too, as is the tank plant north of town too. Even fairly new car plants like Novi Assembly are closed, Pontiac’s ultra-modern robotic car assembly plant too. In Cleveland 100 or more huge old plants stand empty, car plants, steel mills, and machine tool builders, in Akron dozens of rubber plants are long gone, Sharon, Warren, and Youngstown have all lost huge numbers of industrial jobs, Canton and Massillon too, where the NFL started, have been reduced to mere shells of their former selves. Along with the plant closings have gone the hopes and dreams of many thousands of retail operators, restaurant owners, and thousands of other small businesses too. Hundreds of entire major shopping malls stand vacant, as seas of potholes consume local roads. The city of Hamtramck, MI a Detroit suburb of 40,000 people, is bankrupt and has had to layoff all but two employees, one of whom works part-time. The traffic lights are shut-off and stop signs now appear at those intersections instead, as the city can’t even pay its power bill. I could go on & on & on for days but I don’t have the time.

I haven’t driven a semi in almost 2 years as my eyesight has begun giving out early. My last 10 years in the industry was spent delivering fresh and frozen meat on a regular multi-stop route through the Chicago-area and throughout southern Michigan. Between 2001 and 2009, my boss lost 14 of 19 major weekly customers in Michigan to bankruptcy, including three major grocery chains, plus numerous less-frequent customers. The Detroit News reported before Christmas of 2007 a 29% unemployment rate within the city limits of Detroit, with an estimated 44% of the total adult population not working, and another news story reported a 1 in 200 chance of selling a house across the entire metropolitan area, which still has 4 million people total. Since 2003, home prices within the city limits of Detroit have fallen by 90%, and today there are thousands of houses in move-in condition on the market there for $5K to $10K. The suburbs are not immune either.

You know what?  Detroit and Cleveland used to be two of the greatest cities in the entire world.

Today very few people would call them great.  They are just shells of their former glory.

Sadly, this cruel economy is causing “ghost towns” to appear all across the United States.  There are quite a few counties across the nation that now have home vacancy rates of over 50%.

Another reader, Flubadub, also remembers how things used to be….

I am also a product of that generation and remember well the opportunities that existed for anyone with even a high school diploma in those days. Just within a reasonable commute to where I grew up we had US Steel, 3M, General Motors Fisher Body, Nabisco, The Budd Co., Strick Trailer and others providing thousands of jobs that enabled you to provide a decent living for your family. There were also plenty of part time jobs to keep high school students busy enough to avoid the pratfalls of idle youth and afford the 28 cent/ gallon gas for their used cars. Most of it is gone now and I don’t blame the Mexicans or the Chinese for stealing it. I blame the greed of the globalists and their flunkies, the phony free trade advocates in office, who’ve spent the last twenty years giving it all away.

Our jobs are being shipped overseas so that greedy corporate executives can pad their bonuses and our politicians are allowing them to get away with it.

According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, the average CEO made 343 times more money than the average American did last year.

Life is great if you are a CEO.

Life is not so great if you are an average American worker trying to raise a family.

Another reader, Itsjustme, says that things are also quite depressing In New Jersey….

I live in northern NJ in a suburb a very short ride from NYC.

Our region was hit very hard — we once had a very prosperous and booming industrial area; mixed use with many warehouses and commercial buildings, hirise and lowrise.

The majority of companies that were in those buildings are gone. Long vacant; the signage is left and nobody is inside them.

One large commercical building with 15 floors now is home to 2 tenants: a law firm and a Korean shipping company.

It’s very sad what’s happened out here.

The only “companies” moving into these buildings are small change tenants that that are usually Chinese or Middle Eastern; you’ll see them subletting out 2 or 3 offices in these buildings and they operate out of those offices. They’re mostly importers of apparel or soft goods.

My guess is that they are there on very short term leases.

This will benefit our local and state economy not. These groups usually send the money home.

If this is the shape of things to come, we can hang it up right now. No viable companies are moving into our area; if anything new is being built it is retail and service industry garbage, like crummy fast food chain restaurants. No livable wage jobs are entering our local economy.

As I have written about previously, the standard of living of the middle class is being pushed down to third world levels.  We have been merged into a “global labor pool”, and what that means is that the standard of living of all workers all over the world is going to be slowly equalized over time.

Our politicians never told us that all of these “free trade” agreements would mean that soon we would be living like the rest of the world.

America used to be the greatest economic machine on the planet.  But now we are just another region of the one world economy that has workers that are too expensive to be useful.

In the end, there is not some great mystery as to why we are experiencing economic decline as a nation.

If millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, it was basically inevitable that we were going to experience a housing crisis.  Without good jobs the American people simply cannot afford high mortgage payments.

Today we consume far more wealth as a nation than we produce.  We have tried to make up the difference by indulging in the greatest debt binge that the world has ever seen.

We have lived like kings and queens, but our debt-fueled prosperity is not sustainable.  In fact, the collapse of our financial system is a lot closer than most people would like to believe.

Things did not have to turn out like this, but we bought into the lies and the propaganda that our leaders were feeding us.

Now our economy lies in tatters and our children have no economic future.

22 Statistics About America’s Coming Pension Crisis That Will Make You Lose Sleep At Night

As the first of the 80 million Baby Boomers have begun to retire, it has become increasingly apparent that the United States is facing a pension crisis of unprecedented magnitude.  State and local government pension plans are woefully underfunded, dozens of large corporate pension plans either have collapsed or are on the verge of collapsing, Social Security is a complete and total financial disaster and about half of all Americans essentially have nothing saved up for retirement.  So yes, to say that we are facing a retirement crisis would be a tremendous understatement.  There is simply no way that we can keep all of the financial promises that we have made to the Baby Boomer generation.  Unfortunately, the crumbling U.S. economy simply cannot support the comfortable retirement of tens of millions of elderly Americans any longer.  The truth is that we are all going to have to start fundamentally changing the way that we think about our golden years.

Once upon a time, you could count on getting a big, fat pension if you put 30 years into a job.  But now pension plans everywhere are failing.  State and local governments are cutting back and are raising retirement ages.  A majority of Americans have even lost faith in the Social Security system, which was supposed to be the most secure of them all.

The reality is that we are moving into a time when there is not going to be such a thing as “financial security” as we have known it in the past.  Things have fundamentally changed, and we are all going to have to struggle to stay above water in the economic nightmare that is coming.

Part of the reason we have such a gigantic economic mess on the way is because we have promised vastly more than we can deliver to future retirees.  When you closely examine the numbers, it quickly becomes clear that a financial tsunami is about to hit us that is going to be so devastating that it will change everything that we know about retirement. 

The following are 22 statistics about America’s coming pension crisis that will make you lose sleep at night…. 

Private Pension Plans And Retirement Funds

1 – One recent study found that America’s 100 largest corporate pension plans were underfunded by $217 billion at the end of 2008.

2 – Approximately half of all workers in the United States have less than $2000 saved up for retirement.

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

4 – The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation says that the number of pensions at risk inside failing companies more than tripled during the recession.

5 – According to another recent survey, 24% of U.S. workers admit that they have postponed their planned retirement age at least once during the past year.

State And Local Government Pensions

6– Pension consultant Girard Miller recently told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities.  When you break that down, it comes to $22,000 for every single working adult in California.

7 – According to a recent report from Stanford University, California’s three biggest pension funds are as much as $500 billion short of meeting future retiree benefit obligations.

8 – In New Jersey, the governor has proposed not making the state’s entire $3 billion contribution to its pension funds because of the state’s $11 billion budget deficit.

9 – It has been reported that the $33.7 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System is 61% underfunded and is on the verge of total collapse.

10 – The state of Illinois recently raised its retirement age to 67 and capped the salary on which public pensions are figured.

11 – The state of Virginia is requiring employees to pay into the state pension fund for the first time ever.

12 – In New York City, annual pension contributions have increased sixfold in the past decade alone and are now so large that they would be able to finance entire new police and fire departments.

13– Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua D. Rauh of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management recently calculated the combined pension liability for all 50 U.S. states.  What they found was that the 50 states are collectively facing $5.17 trillion in pension obligations, but they only have $1.94 trillion set aside in state pension funds.  That is a difference of 3.2 trillion dollars.

Social Security

14 – According to one recently conducted poll, 6 out of every 10 non-retirees in the United States believe that the Social Security system will not be able to pay them benefits when they stop working.

15 – A very large percentage of the federal budget is made up of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare that cannot be reduced without a change in the law.  Approximately 57 percent of Barack Obama’s 3.8 trillion dollar budget for 2011 consists of direct payments to individual Americans or is money that is spent on their behalf.

1635% of Americans over the age of 65 rely almost entirely on Social Security payments alone.

17 – According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in 2010.  That was not supposed to happen until at least 2016.  The Social Security deficits are projected to get increasingly worse in the years ahead. 

18 – 56 percent of current retirees believe that the U.S. government will eventually cut their Social Security benefits.

19 – In 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 U.S. workers.  In 2010, each retiree’s Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 U.S. workers.  By 2025, it is projected that there will be approximately two U.S. workers for each retiree.

20 – The shortfall in entitlement programs in the years ahead is mind blowing.  The present value of projected scheduled benefits surpasses earmarked revenues for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare by about 46 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. 

21According to a recent U.S. government report, soaring interest costs on the U.S. national debt plus rapidly escalating spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will absorb approximately 92 cents of every single dollar of federal revenue by the year 2019.  That is before a single dollar is spent on anything else.

22 – Right now, interest on the U.S. national debt and spending on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 percent of GDP.  By 2080, those combined expenditures are projected to eat up approximately 50 percent of GDP.

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