The IMF Issues A Worldwide Warning: “The Risk Of A Sharper Decline In Global Growth Has Certainly Increased”

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde made headlines all over the globe this week when she declared that “the risk of a sharper decline in global growth has certainly increased”. As you will see below, signs of economic trouble are popping up all over the planet, and pretty much just about everyone is now acknowledging that the global economy is slowing down. But does that mean that we are headed for a global recession in 2019? Well, things certainly do not look good right now, but there is still time to turn things around. But in order to turn things in a more positive direction, something has got to be done to stop the downward momentum that seems to be accelerating in the early portion of this year.

On Monday, the IMF slashed their forecast for global economic growth for the second time in three months

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised down its estimates for global growth on Monday, warning that the expansion seen in recent years is losing momentum.

The Fund now projects a 3.5 percent growth rate worldwide for 2019 and 3.6 percent for 2020. These are 0.2 and 0.1 percentage points below its last forecasts in October — making it the second downturn revision in three months.

But at least they are still projecting global economic growth this year, and many would argue that “a 3.5 percent growth rate” is wildly optimistic.

At this point, it seems like just about everywhere you look economic confidence is declining. For example, one recent survey found that the percentage of global CEOs that believe that the world economy will slow down over the next year has jumped dramatically

Rising populism, policy uncertainty and trade conflicts have led to a sharp drop in confidence among global CEOs.

The share of chief executives who think the global economy will slow over the next year has jumped to nearly 30% from 5% in 2018, according to a survey of 1,300 top business leaders by audit giant PwC.

At least publicly, corporate CEOs usually want to put a positive spin on the future, and so it is absolutely astounding that this number has risen so much in a single year.

But there is no denying what is happening around the world right now. Over in Asia, China just announced that 2018 was the worst year for economic growth that country had seen in 28 years.

In addition, Chinese corporate bond defaults soared to an all-time record high in 2018, and it looks like 2019 could easily be even worse.

On the other side of the globe, Europe’s largest economy actually contracted during the third quarter

In Europe, its largest economic powerhouse Germany has been dented after it was announced the German economy had contracted in the third quarter.

This left Berlin skirting on the fringe of recession territory with economists fearing the most powerful economy in Europe was on the brink of financial chaos.

Europe faces great uncertainty during the months ahead. There is a very real possibility that we could have a “no deal Brexit”, Italy is teetering on the brink of complete and total financial ruin, and the entire European banking system could begin to collapse at any time.

Meanwhile, we continue to get more indications that the U.S. economy is slowing down as well.

For example, on Monday we got news that JCPenney is “on the precipice of bankruptcy”

JCPenney already finds itself in a precarious position in the first month of 2019: stocks are dwindling, sales are falling, and its desolate boardroom is still waiting for a number of senior vacancies to be filled.

Analysts fear the multitude of problems the department store is now facing points towards a ‘broken business’ balancing on the precipice of bankruptcy.

And just like its once fierce competitor Sears, all 846 of its stores could face closure, potentially affecting thousands of workers and risking another heavy blow to an already beaten-and-bruised retail sector.

Just like Sears, JCPenney is headed for zero, but it will take some time for the process to fully play out.

And the same thing is true for the nation as a whole. As James Howard Kunstler observed in his most recent article, our financial system “is on a slow boat to oblivion”…

As in this age of Hollywood sequels and prequels, America prefers to recycle old ideas rather than entertain new ones, so you can see exactly how the 2020 presidential election is shaping up to be a replay of the Great Depression, with Roosevelt-to-rescue! — only this time it’ll be with somebody in the role of Eleanor Roosevelt as chief executive. Donald Trump, of course, being the designated bag-holder for all the financial blunders of the past decade, gets to be Herbert Hoover. As was the case in the original, economic depression will segue into war, with maybe not such a happy ending for us as World War Two was.

There should be no doubt that the money part of the story is on a slow boat to oblivion. The world has been running on loans to such a grotesque degree that it’s managed the impressive feat of bankrupting the future. The collateral for all that debt was the conviction that there were ample amounts of future “growth” up ahead to service that debt. That conviction is now evaporating as car sales plummet, and real estate goes south, and nations twang each other over trade, and global supply lines wither. Globalism is unwinding — and not for the first time, either.

Of course most ordinary Americans are not getting prepared for what is ahead because they do not believe that anything is going to happen.

Despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary, most people believe that the system is stable and that our political leaders can easily fix any problems that may arise.

Unfortunately, the truth is not that simple. Our problems have been building for decades, and at this point there is no way that this story is going to end well.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Investors Beware: “The World Economy Is Headed For A Recession In 2019 Unless Something Happens”

Global economic activity has been slowing down dramatically in recent months, and now the mainstream media is filled with dire warnings that a global recession is dead ahead in 2019. And without a doubt, things do not look good right now as economic numbers from all over the globe just get bleaker and bleaker. China’s trade numbers are imploding, Germany is “careening towards recession”, and the government shutdown in the United States is taking a huge toll on the U.S. economy. In past years, the mainstream media usually tried to put a positive spin on any bad numbers, but now their mood seems completely different. For example, in a Daily Mail article that was just posted we are told that “the world economy is headed for a recession in 2019 unless something happens”…

Global growth is slowing and the world economy is headed for a recession in 2019 unless something happens to give it renewed momentum.

The OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) leading indicator fell to just 99.3 points in November, its lowest since October 2012, and down from a peak of 100.5 at the end of 2017.

It appears that we are at a critical level on that OECD index, because whenever that number has fallen under 99.3 a recession has almost always followed

In the last 50 years, whenever the index has fallen below 99.3, there has almost always been a recession in the United States (1970, 1974, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001 and 2008).

The one exception was the weakening of the index in 1998, when the United States continued to grow, despite the weakening global economy in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

Will we beat the odds this time?

I wouldn’t bet on it.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley’s chief equity strategist is warning of a potential recession and telling us that we should “embrace it”. The following comes from CNN

The S&P 500 will soon suffer a retest of the lows from Christmas Eve because of shrinking earnings estimates and mounting economic concerns, the investment bank warned in a Monday report titled “Don’t fear a potential recession; Embrace it.”

“Should the hard data deteriorate further, as we expect, we think the market will quickly return to pricing in a recession and rate cuts,” wrote Michael Wilson, Morgan Stanley’s chief US equity strategist.

When the “too big to fail” banks are warning that a recession is coming, you know that it is late in the game.

Also, a top economist at Moody’s Analytics just told Maryland’s Budget and Taxation Committee that they should be getting prepared for the coming recession

An economist has warned Maryland Senators that a recession is coming and that they should begin to prepare for it. The economist said that the indicators point to the recession happening in mid-2020, perhaps sooner.

Dan White, director of government consulting and fiscal policy research for Moody’s Analytics, told members of the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee that there are financial indicators of an upcoming recession according to the Baltimore Sun.

And the latest housing numbers seem to confirm that a recession may be coming sooner rather than later. In the month of December, U.S. home sales were down 11 percent

The median US home price rose 1.2% to $289,800 in December, the slowest monthly pace since March 2012, when the housing market was just beginning to climb out of the hole left by the collapse. Meanwhile, sales dropped by 11%, the biggest drop for any one month since 2016, according to a report released by real estate company Redfin said. This follows a drop in the hottest markets, like San Jose, California, where prices dropped 7.3%.

As BBG explains, the housing market is softening after years of rapidly rising prices as the shortage in homes is beginning to wane. With interest rates on the rise, mortgages are becoming more expensive, which is cutting in to demand.

But just because a recession is coming does not mean that we should be afraid.

You may have noticed that I write about a lot of hard things on The Economic Collapse Blog and End Of The American Dream. But my wife and I are not negative people at all. We are not down, we are not depressed, and we are not on any pills. We are excited about the future and we believe that our greatest days are still to come.

However, we are definitely realists. We are greatly saddened by what is happening to this country, but we also know that it is not going to be avoided. So we want to be in a position to make it through what is ahead, and we want to fulfill the purpose for why we were put on this planet.

Anxiety, fear and panic are for those that get their meaning in life from material possessions, that don’t understand what is happening, and that are going to totally freak out when everything falls apart. For example, the following comes from an article by a member of the Council on Foreign Relations named Christian H. Cooper

My most recent annual salary was over $700,000. I am a Truman National Security Fellow and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations. My publisher has just released my latest book series on quantitative finance in worldwide distribution.

None of it feels like enough. I feel as though I am wired for a permanent state of fight or flight, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or the metaphorical week when I don’t eat. I’ve chosen not to have children, partly because—despite any success—I still don’t feel I have a safety net. I have a huge minimum checking account balance in mind before I would ever consider having children. If you knew me personally, you might get glimpses of stress, self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.

People like that are not going to be able to handle what is coming.

But if we understand the changes that are taking place and we have our priorities in order, we will be in a much better position to respond calmly to a world that is becoming more chaotic with each passing day.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

New Study Discovers That 1 Out Of Every 3 Americans Are Taking Medications That Have “Depressive Side Effects”

Is this one of the reasons why everyone is so depressed all the time?

One third of Americans are taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as birth control pills, antacids and common heart medications, that may raise the risk of depression, researchers warned on Tuesday.

Since the drugs are so common, people may be unaware of their potential depressive effects, said the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“Many may be surprised to learn that their medications, despite having nothing to do with mood or anxiety or any other condition normally associated with depression, can increase their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms, and may lead to a depression diagnosis,” said lead author Dima Qato, assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

To a certain extent, our massive societal problems with depression and suicide are a result of what we are doing to ourselves.

For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “The Big Secret The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want To Tell You About America’s Soaring Suicide Rates”.

14 Facts That Prove That America’s Absolutely Pathetic System Of Public Education Deserves An ‘F’ Grade

One thing that almost everyone can agree upon is that our system of public education is broken. We spend far more money on public education than anyone else in the world, and yet the results are depressing to say the least. Considering how much we are putting into education, we should be producing the best students on the entire planet, but it just isn’t happening. Personally, I attended public schools from kindergarten all the way up through law school, and the quality of education that I received was extremely poor. Even on the collegiate level, most of the courses were so “dumbed down” that even the family dog could have passed them. And of course millions of other people all over the country would say the same sorts of things about their own educations. Many refer to what is happening to our society as “the dumbing down of America”, and if we don’t get things fixed the United States is on course to become a second class nation.

If you believe that I am exaggerating, I would like you to consider the following numbers. The following are 14 facts that prove that America’s absolutely pathetic system of education deserves an “F” grade…

#1 Somewhere around 50 million students attend public schools in America today.

#2 Education is the most expensive item in 41 different state budgets.

#3 The latest PISA tests show that U.S. students are below average compared to the rest of the industrialized world…

One of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.

#4 A report from the Educational Testing Service found that American Millennials are way behind Millennials in most other industrialized nations…

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

#5 According to one very disturbing study, fewer than half of all high school graduates “are able to proficiently read or complete math problems”.

#6 According to U.S. News & World Report, “inflation-adjusted spending per student in American public schools has increased by 663 percent.”

#7 In 2015, the percentage of students in our public schools coming from low income homes crossed the 50 percent mark. That was the first time that had happened in at least 50 years.

#8 One study found that a whopping 76 percent of all high school graduates “were not adequately prepared academically for first-year college courses.”

#9 The following are five numbers which show how far the quality of college education has fallen in the United States…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”

-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago.”

-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”

-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages.”

-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

#10 Just 36 percent of all full-time college students receive a bachelor’s degree within four years, and just 77 percent of all full-time college students have earned a bachelor’s degree by the end of six years.

#11 One survey found that nearly 10 percent of our college graduates believe that Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court…

#12 Another survey found that 29 percent of all U.S. adults cannot name the Vice-President.

#13 And yet another survey found that only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between the years of 1850 and 1900.

#14 Perhaps worst of all, 75 percent of our young adults cannot find Israel on a map of the Middle East.

This is what happens when we put federal bureaucrats in charge of education.

All over the country there are calls to abolish the Department of Education. For example, the following was published on CNBC

The DOE currently employs 5,000 government workers and has an annual budget of $73 billion, yet according to the CATO Institute, it has not affected student outcomes in any demonstrable way over its 40-year history . It has successfully created a system that requires educators to teach reams of “politically-correct” content and focus on scoring well on standardized tests. It has created an atmosphere of testing in our schools, putting intense pressure on teachers and students to “ace the test” rather than mastering the material. This promotes a culture of teaching to the test and score tampering.

Unfortunately, abolishing the Department of Education is not going to be easy, because there is a tremendous amount of money at stake. And whenever there is a tremendous amount of money at stake, there are going to be very powerful interests that are determined to keep things just the way that they are…

The major stakeholders in K-12 public education are at an impasse. Teachers’ Unions are primarily concerned with self-preservation, maintaining extravagant perks for union administrators and exerting disproportionate political influence. A handful of publishing houses sell us $8 billion worth of warmed- over text books every year. Testing companies collectively spent tens of millions lobbying in states and on Capitol Hill from 2009 to 2014. These politically powerful, entrenched special interests are heavily invested in maintaining the failing status quo.

But even though there is going to be a lot of resistance, I am going to try to abolish the Department of Education anyway. I believe that full control over education should be returned to the state and local levels, but that is just the beginning.

Ultimately, we need to rebuild our system of education from the ground up. Instead of politically-correct indoctrination centers that endlessly pump progressive propaganda into impressionable young minds, we need to transform our public schools into institutions that focus on the essentials. We need a renewed emphasis on reading, writing, math and the skills that will enable our young people to function successfully once they get out into the real world.

At one time America’s system of education was the best in the world, and we can get there again. But of course the left is going to fight against the changes that need to be made every step of the way.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Completely Alone And Utterly Depressed

Do you ever feel like you have been completely abandoned by the world? Do you struggle with feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression? If so, you are far from alone. Thanks to technology Americans are more isolated than they have ever been before, and as you will see below, this is really starting to cause a major national crisis. Humans were designed to be social creatures, and researchers have found that a lack of interaction with others can cause major mental, emotional and social problems. Not only that, it can also lead to premature death. We actually have a need to love others and to be loved by them, and if those needs are not met the consequences can be quite dramatic.

Unfortunately, our society has evolved to the point where we hardly interact with one another anymore. First of all, the size of the average household has declined from about 4.5 people to about 2.5 people over the past 100 years, and we lead the world in the number of one person households.

So for most of us, the number of people that we interact with in our homes is quite limited.

For children, at least there is quite a bit of interaction with others at school, but once you become an adult things are very different.

Most adults get up in the morning and drive by themselves to work. Even if you take mass transportation, it is very rare to actually have a meaningful discussion with anyone. I remember the days when I would take the Metro into Washington D.C. every morning, and most of the time there was complete silence even though the trains were usually completely packed during rush hour. Most people would either close their eyes, read a book or spend the entire trip staring into their phones.

I have to say that cell phones have probably done more to damage real human interaction than almost any other invention in human history. So many people just walk around like zombies obsessively staring into their little phones while life goes on all around them. And it is the worst with young people. For some of them, it is virtually impossible to get them to put those things down long enough to have a real conversation with them.

Once most Americans get to their places of employment there is some human interaction, but it is generally limited to topics related to work. Yes, some very deep and meaningful relationships can be built at work, but these days that is fairly rare.

At the end of the day, most people get back into their vehicles and head home. Perhaps a stop is made for a quick shopping trip, but randomly engaging other shoppers in conversation is not something that is typically done.

In the evenings, the vast majority of us spend several hours staring into our flickering television sets consuming whatever “entertainment” the corporate media giants have concocted for us. Like the cell phone, the television has been one of the worst things to ever happen to human interaction. In the old days, families would sit out on their front porches and get to know their neighbors, but these days a lot of people don’t know their neighbors at all.

What I am trying to point out is that we have become a deeply lonely nation, and some are describing this as “a public health crisis”

Truly, a public health crisis is in the making. Transcending all demographics, loneliness is an epidemic which is literally killing us.

After 35 years of multiple studies, Brigham Young University researchers have found that loneliness and isolation increase the likelihood of premature death by 32 percent (on par with the risk of obesity). In our ever “connected” world of the Internet and social media, reaching out to someone is as easy as tapping a few buttons, but the amount of people that say they have no one to talk to has tripled in the last 20 years.

In addition to greatly increasing your risk of dying early, loneliness has a whole host of other negative health effects as well

Research indicates that perceived social isolation (i.e. loneliness) is a risk factor for, and may contribute to, poorer overall cognitive performance, faster cognitive decline, poorer executive functioning, increased negativity and depressive cognition, heightened sensitivity to social threats, a confirmatory bias in social cognition that is self-protective and paradoxically self-defeating, heightened anthropomorphism and contagion that threatens social cohesion.

I don’t know what all of that means, but it sounds really bad.

Sometimes I wish that scientists would just speak to us in plain English.

Loneliness is particularly chronic among the elderly. The following comes from the New York Times

“The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem,” said Dr. Carla M. Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco. “It is no longer medically or ethically acceptable to ignore older adults who feel lonely and marginalized.”

In Britain and the United States, roughly one in three people older than 65 live alone, and in the United States, half of those older than 85 live alone. Studies in both countries show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranging from 10 percent to 46 percent.

If you have a parent or a grandparent that is living alone, please visit them on a regular basis.

You may never know how much it means to them.

Of course loneliness is a big problem on the other end of the age spectrum as well. The following comes from U.S. News & World Report

The American Freshman Survey collected responses from about 153,000 full-time, first-year students at more than 200 four-year public and private institutions in 2014. An increasing number of students – now 38.8 percent – said they spend less than five hours each week with friends, while just 18 percent said they spend more than 16 hours weekly with friends. It’s the opposite of the picture student responses painted in 1987, when two-thirds said they spent more than 16 hours each week socializing.

Those numbers are absolutely staggering. Because so many of us are feeling so lonely and so isolated, it should come as no surprise that depression is at epidemic levels in this country.

In fact, the number of Americans that have been formally diagnosed with depression is increasing at a rate of about 20 percent a year, and at this moment approximately one out of every six Americans is on an anti-depressant or some other sort of psychiatric drug.

According to the New York Times, more than 30 million Americans are currently taking antidepressants, and each year more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants are issued.

As technology takes over our lives, the trends that I have discussed in this article will likely accelerate even more, and our need for real human interaction will become even greater.

So make it a point to reach out and love those around you, because our world is becoming a very cold place.

You Do Not Go To War With Your Own People

Donald Trump is making the exact same tragic mistake that other prominent leaders have made in the past.  You never, ever, ever go to war with your own people.  Yes, you may have some very serious disagreements with your own team sometimes, but you never go to war with them.  When Trump openly declared war on the Freedom Caucus, he immediately lost the support of millions of conservatives.  And now Trump is going to have a tremendously difficult time getting anything on his agenda through Congress, because without Freedom Caucus votes the Democrats will be able to block just about everything that Trump wants to do.

Yes, I understand that Trump is upset because his healthcare legislation failed.  But instead of getting angry and lashing out at the people that should be his closest allies in Congress, perhaps he should take another look at the bill.

The truth is that it was called “Obamacare Lite” for a reason.  It was an absolute nightmare of a bill, and conservatives all over the nation were united in their opposition of it.

When you are a leader, sometimes you have to be willing to admit that you were wrong.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is not very good at admitting when he is not right about something.

Instead of the path of humility, Trump has decided to go to war with the Freedom Caucus.  On Friday, Trump actually posted a tweet that urged his supporters to “fight” the Freedom Caucus during the election of 2018…

The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!

No, conservatives will definitely not be attempting to remove the best members of Congress in 2018.  For Trump to even suggest this is absolute madness.

Trump desperately needs friends in Congress, and the members of the Freedom Caucus could be his best friends if he would just work with them.

But instead he is deeply alienating them, and after Trump’s tweet on Friday a couple members of the Freedom Caucus struck back at him.  One of them was U.S. Representative Thomas Massie

@realDonaldTrump it’s a swamp not a hot tub. We both came here to drain it. polls 17%. Sad!

Another member of the Freedom Caucus that fired back at Trump was U.S. Representative Justin Amash

It didn’t take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump. No shame, Mr. President. Almost everyone succumbs to the D.C. Establishment.

What in the world is Trump hoping to accomplish by feuding with these conservatives?

If Trump wants to repeal Obamacare, he should just push the same clean repeal bill that was passed by the House right near the end of Obama’s time in office.

During the campaign season, Trump’s desire to fight with everyone ended up working for him, but in Washington you are going to need some friends if you actually want to accomplish anything.  The members of the Freedom Caucus would have supported more of Trump’s agenda than any other group in the House of Representatives, but now he has gone to war with them.

I don’t know if I have the words to describe the utter foolishness of that move.

But even after threatening to go after their jobs in the next election, some members of the Freedom Caucus are still being conciliatory.  One of them is Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador

@realDonaldTrump Freedom Caucus stood with u when others ran. Remember who your real friends are. We’re trying to help u succeed.

And Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan told Fox News that his group is “trying to help the president”

Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan, however, refused to take Trump’s bait during an interview on “America’s Newsroom.”

“We appreciate the president,” Jordan said. “We’re trying to help the president, but the fact is you have to look at the legislation.”

He added: “I’m not here to assign blame to anyone…what I focus on doing is doing what I told the voters we’re going to do.”

Instead of trying to bully his friends, Trump should try listening to them instead.

But even before it became clear that Obamacare Lite would not pass, he was threatening members of the Freedom Caucus with primary challenges if they would not vote the way that he wanted…

President Trump dared Rep. Mark Sanford to vote against the Obamacare repeal bill last week so he could put a primary challenger against the former governor in 2018, the congressman said.

According to Sanford, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told him, “The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run (a primary challenger) against you in 2018,” according to The Post and Courierwhich first reported the story. Mulvaney, a friend of Sanford’s, was a South Carolina congressman before he joined the administration.

This is one of the signs of a weak and ineffective leader.  I have seen other “leaders” try to use their power to bully people into doing what they want done, and it rarely works.

If Trump keeps acting like this, pretty soon he is not going to have any friends left.  During the campaign season, Matt Drudge was one of Trump’s most fervent supporters, but now even Drudge appears to be turning on him

In early February, Drudge tweeted that the “Republican party should be sued for fraud. NO discussion of tax cuts now. Just lots of crazy. Back to basics, guys!” and “No Obamacare repeal, tax cuts! But Republicans vote to shut Warren? Only know how to be opposition not lead! DANGER ”

One month later, Drudge was even more direct, saying “Republicans lied about wanting tax cuts. Can we get our votes back?”

Then, last Thursday, amid the struggle to rally enough Republican votes to pass an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan, he tweeted, “The swamp drains you,” which many saw as a jab at President Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp.”

When a leader goes to war with his own people, it almost always results in a tragic ending.

Yes, Trump could perhaps take down a couple members of Congress in the 2018 election, but Trump will find that his entire presidency is paralyzed if he doesn’t have any friends in Congress.

For example, if a spending bill in not passed by April 28th, a government shutdown will begin on April 29th.

So without the help of the Freedom Caucus, where is Trump going to get the votes that he needs to avoid a shutdown?

Is Trump going to team up with the Democrats?

I don’t think so.

Without some friends in Congress, there will be no spending bill, the debt ceiling will not get raised, there will be no border wall, there will be no tax cuts, there will be no enhanced border security, there will be no trillion dollar infrastructure plan, there will be no new military spending and nothing else that Trump wants to do will get done either.

Trump is going to learn a very hard lesson that many other prominent leaders in the past have also learned.

You do not go to war with your own people.

The ‘Experts’ Tell Us That Christmas Is The Most Depressing Time Of The Year – Do You Agree?

holiday-season-public-domain

For many people, the holiday season is the most dreaded time of the year.  But does it have to be that way?  The holidays can be a real pressure point because they tend to magnify our problems.  If you are a very busy person, it is likely that you are even busier and more stressed for time during December.  If your family relationships are strained, this time of the year can be really tough because there is pressure to interact with family.  Other people that feel a deep sense of loneliness often find that it becomes even deeper and more intense around Christmas.  And more than anything else, so many people feel like they are missing out on something because their holidays never seem to match up with the glittering ideal that is constantly portrayed in the movies and on television.  We are a deeply unhappy nation anyway, but this time of the year just seems to make it even worse.

The truth is that there are a lot of people out there that can’t wait for the Christmas season to be over.  If you can believe it, one survey found that 45 percent of us actually dread the holiday season.  The following is an excerpt from a Psychology Today article

We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience the highest incidence of depression. Hospitals and police forces report the highest incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season.

A different survey found a similar result.  According to that survey, 48 percent of all men say that they “feel depressed or sad” around Christmas…

Amid pressures to be “merry” and “happy”, nearly half of men admit that they actually feel depressed or sad over Christmas, a study by the Samaritans has revealed.

Out of 140 people polled by an online survey, 48 percent of men said they feel low in December with 45 percent saying their worries were the most troubling during the festive period compared to any other time of the year.

But of course it isn’t like we are a happy bunch the rest of the year either.  It has been reported that the number of Americans formally diagnosed with depression increases by approximately 20 percent every year, and at this point about one out of every six Americans is on an anti-depressant or some other kind of psychiatric drug…

The number used to be one in ten, but according to new data, one out of every six adult Americans is taking anti-depressants or some other type of psychiatric drugs now.

What that breaks down to is “Overall, 16.7 percent of 242 million U.S. adults reported filling one or more prescriptions for psychiatric drugs in 2013,” according to research published today in Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Internal Medicine.

Those are absolutely staggering numbers, and the epidemic is the worst among middle age women.  It may be hard to believe, but at this point one out of every four women in their 40s and 50s is taking an antidepressant medication.

And once you get on these drugs you tend to stay on them for a very long time.  One study found that more than 84 percent of the people on these drugs get them refilled at least three times a year.

Getting off these drugs is not easy, but staying on them indefinitely can be absolutely debilitating.

When are we going to recognize that we have a serious national crisis on our hands?  Nobody disputes that we are the most drugged people on the entire planet by a very wide margin.  Incredibly, Americans account for only five percent of the global population, but we consume more than 50 percent of the pharmaceutical drugs.

What is wrong with us?

According to the New York Times, more than 30 million Americans take antidepressants right now, and it has been reported that health professionals in the United States write more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants every year.

If we are not depressed, then why are we taking so much antidepressant medication?

Of course the truth is that we are deeply depressed as a nation, and there are many out there that have decided to medicate themselves.  In the United States today, 60 million people abuse alcohol and another 22 million people abuse illegal drugs.

So why are we so unhappy?

Well, there are lots of reasons, but one of the big ones is the breakdown of the family.

The only two countries that have a higher divorce rate than the United States are Belarus and the Maldives.  When it comes to marriage we are a dramatic failure as a nation, but nobody seems to be making fixing our marriages a major national priority.

We also have the highest percentage of one person households on the entire planet, and this leads to a tremendous amount of loneliness.

Our wealth and technology have allowed us to become more isolated than ever before, but that is not a good thing.  A century ago, 4.52 people were living in the average U.S. household, but now the average U.S. household only consists of 2.59 people.

When you start seeing these numbers, it starts making sense why we are all so deeply depressed.

And fewer Americans than ever are choosing to get married and start families.  According to a Pew Research Center survey, only 51 percent of all adults in the United States are married.

But all the way back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in this country were married.

So what is the answer?

Well, you don’t need to immediately run out and get married and start a family in order to be happy.  In fact, some of the unhappiest people in the entire world are married.

And you aren’t going to find happiness in Christmas traditions either.  You won’t find happiness by buying bigger and better Christmas presents, you won’t find happiness by watching more movies about Santa Claus, and you definitely won’t find happiness in a tree.

In the end, what we are all craving is love and connection.  If you have pleasant holiday memories, they invariably involve other people.  That is because we were created to love and to be loved, and when we get away from that we start to get into trouble.

The greatest need in our world today is love.  If you feel as though there is not a lot of love in your life right now, ask yourself how much love you have been giving to others.

Often it is the people that give the most love that end up receiving the most love.  So if you want more love in your life, start reaching out and loving others.

If you endeavor to become a person of great love, you will become happier not only during the holiday season, but during every other time of the year as well.

About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and The Most Important News. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Good Side Of Thanksgiving And The Bad Side Of Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-dinner-photo-by-marcus-quiqmire

I have to admit – of all the holidays on our calendar, Thanksgiving is one of my favorites.  It is a time to gather with family and friends, and it is a time to give thanks for all the good things that have happened to us this year.  And the remarkable acts of generosity that happen during this time of the year remind all of us that there are still people out there that are trying to do the right thing and to be lights in their communities.  But of course all is not well in America this Thanksgiving.  As I write about so often on The Economic Collapse Blog, poverty is growing, close to 50 million Americans are struggling with hunger, and the number of people sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City just hit an all-time record high.  Sadly, even with such great need all around us, Americans continue to be some of the most wasteful people on the entire planet.  In fact, one newly released report says that Americans will throw away 200 million pounds of turkey this Thanksgiving alone…

Americans throw away roughly $165 billion in uneaten food every year, according to government data. And about $293 million of that waste will happen during Thanksgiving — and that’s just for turkey alone.

Although sales of whole turkeys for Thanksgiving have dipped a bit in recent years, consumers are still expected to throw away about 200 million pounds of turkey during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit organization based in New York.

“At a time when one in eight Americans go hungry, taking steps to reduce food waste is even more critical,” said a spokeswoman for the NRDC in a news release.

How could we be so wasteful?

When you break it down, 200 million pounds of turkey comes to about two-thirds of a pound of turkey for every man, woman and child in America.

And Thanksgiving is also a time when millions of Americans are eager to hit the bottle.  On the night before Thanksgiving, demand for alcoholic beverages was so great in Pennsylvania that it actually crashed liquor store credit card systems

Credit card systems are back up and running at Pennsylvania liquor stores after they were down statewide for a time the night before Thanksgiving.

The credit card system at Wine and Spirit stores statewide went down Wednesday afternoon, CBS 3’s Greg Argos reports.

At the state-run Fine Wine and Good Spirits store near 20th and Market in Center City, the line wrapped around the store.

Perhaps even worse is what happens following Thanksgiving.  Our “Black Friday” orgy of greed and materialism has become a massive joke to the rest of the world, but we don’t seem to care.  As long as we can fill up our shopping carts with lots of cheaply-made foreign products at super-discounted prices we are happy.  For much more on the disgrace that the Black Friday phenomenon has become, please see my recent article entitled “Instead Of Black Friday Materialism, Thanksgiving Weekend Should Be A Time To Live, Laugh And Love“.

With all that being said, there is also so much good happening around the country on this holiday as well.

All over America people are devoting time, money and energy to make sure that struggling families have something to eat on Thanksgiving.  If you can believe it, even someone like Snoop Dogg is helping to give away thousands of Thanksgiving meals to families in need…

With Thanksgiving just days away, rapper and actor Snoop Dogg joined Inglewood city officials and Rams players on Monday to make the holiday a little brighter for families in need.

For the third year in a row, Snoop Dogg, who is from Long Beach, partnered with Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts and other city officials to give away thousands of Thanksgiving meals.

Many that are reading this article may be wondering why I am praising someone like Snoop Dogg, and without a doubt his music contains an incredible amount of offensive material, but in this case he is doing the right thing.

No matter who it is, when someone chooses to do great acts of love and compassion that individual deserves to be praised.

And you never know – when we praise someone for doing right, that person may ultimately decide that the path of righteousness is better than the path that they have chosen up to this point.

We should be in the “restoration business”, and there is nobody that is so far gone that they are completely out of reach.

Throughout our history, there has always been something about this time of the year that has brought out the best in people.  The following is a short excerpt from an absolutely outstanding article that was written for Charisma News by Dr. Eddie Hyatt…

The Pilgrims who landed on Cape Cod in November 1620 were devout followers of Christ who had left the comforts of home, family and friends to pursue their vision of a renewed and reformed Christianity. Although facing insurmountable challenges and much suffering, they maintained an attitude of gratitude through every trial.

They were a thankful people. They never wavered in their faith even during their first winter in the New World (1620-21) when sickness ravaged their community and half of them, about 50 in number, were taken away in death.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims the following fall of 1621 after they had gathered in their fall harvest. Although their hearts were still heavy from the losses suffered the previous winter, there were at least three areas for which they felt particularly grateful to God.

And the spirit of that first Thanksgiving continues to live on today.  Earlier this month, a farmer named Steve Wollyung had 112 acres remaining to be harvested when the unthinkable happened.  But when tragedy struck, his entire community rallied around him and his family in a way that could definitely be regarded as miraculous

His 4-year-old granddaughter Ayla was playing in a grain wagon when she became trapped in the wagon. First responders removed Ayla from the grain wagon, and she was airlifted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where she later died from her injuries.

Tara Henry, a longtime friend of the Wollyung family, heard about the farming accident the next day. She called up Steve’s wife Carmen and asked if they were done harvesting, and Carmen told her they still had over 100 acres to finish and they weren’t sure how they were going to get it all done.

Henry called a few farmers who were done harvesting and asked if they would be willing to help. Word spread quickly and pretty soon more than 60 people from several counties contacted Henry about donating their time and equipment to help the Wollyung family.

In the end, the remaining 112 acres were harvested on a single day.  In fact, all 18,463 bushels were brought in by about 5 PM.

That is the kind of good news that I get excited about, and it shows that love is not totally dead in America.

Yes, things are often very bleak in our country today, but let us never forget that light overcomes the darkness.

Just when you think that there is no hope, a little bit of love can change everything.

I would encourage you to think about how you can use the power of love to make a difference to those around you during this very special time of the year.

About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and The Most Important News. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Early Voting Results In Key Battleground States Appear To Favor Donald Trump

vote-button-public-domain

If you want Donald Trump to win the election, then you have got to be encouraged by what you are seeing so far. Early voting has already been going on in a number of the most important battleground states, and up to this point the numbers seem to support the theory that Donald Trump is doing significantly better in key swing states than Mitt Romney did in 2012. As you will see below, the latest numbers released by Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and Arizona all have good news for the Trump campaign. Without a doubt, I still have an ominous feeling about what is going to happen tomorrow night, but so far at least there are some encouraging signs.

Florida

Early voting has become extremely popular in Florida, and at this point close to half of all voters in the state have already cast their ballots.

Donald Trump cannot win the election without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, and so to say that this is a “must win” for the Trump campaign would be a massive understatement.

Fortunately, the Trump campaign appears to be doing much better in Florida than the Romney campaign did in 2012. The following comes from Politico

Florida Democrats increased their lead over Republicans in casting pre-Election Day ballots to nearly 33,000 as of Sunday morning, but the sheer number of new voters and independents makes it tougher than ever for experts to say whether Hillary Clinton has a clear advantage over Donald Trump in the nation’s biggest battleground state.

Of the record 6.1 million in-person early votes and absentee ballots cast, Democrats have an advantage over Republicans of only 0.5 percentage points, with each party casting roughly 39 percent of the ballots. Though it’s a lead for Democrats, they’re not going to match their 3.7-percentage-point lead in early votes by Election Day they enjoyed in 2012. And Republicans tend to outvote Democrats on Election Day in Florida.

On Monday, updated numbers for Florida were released, and we found out that the Democrats had increased their lead to about 87,000 votes. But Trump is still doing much better than Romney was at this stage.

And the Trump campaign also has to be happy about the fact that first-time voters account for 25 percent of all the votes cast so far. Throughout this election cycle Trump has shown that he can bring out people that have never voted before, and so officials in the Trump campaign have to be smiling about this.

However, one sign of trouble for the Trump campaign is the fact that there has been a 100 percent increase in early voting by Hispanics in Florida compared to 2012, and this appears to be fueled by dislike for Trump. The following comes from the Miami Herald

Through Saturday, 565,000 Hispanics had completed early in-person voting in Florida, a 100 percent increase over 2012, according to an analysis by Dan Smith, a University of Florida political science professor who tracks voting data.

Including absentee ballots, 911,000 Hispanics have voted — more than a third of whom did not vote in 2012. “We’re witnessing explosive early voting turnout of Hispanics — both those newly registered to vote as well as those who sat on the sidelines in 2012,” Smith said.

As discussed above, Republicans tend to outvote Democrats on Election Day in Florida, so the key for the Trump campaign will be to have the same kind of Election Day turnout that the Romney campaign had in 2012.

If Trump wins Florida, he will have a legitimate shot at winning the election, but if he loses the state it will be virtually impossible for him to make up those 29 electoral votes elsewhere on the map.

North Carolina

Another state that the Trump campaign desperately needs is North Carolina. Mitt Romney won this state back in 2012, and according to the Drudge Report the Trump campaign is doing even better than the Romney campaign did during early voting…

Another dramatic turn of events is being reported out of North Carolina this afternoon: Donald Trump has jumped past all expectations in early voting!

In 2012, Romney hit Election Day down 447,000 votes, based on early ballots. He went on to win the state by 97,000 votes.

Now, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal, Trump opens Election Day down 305,000!

North Carolina is another of the key battleground states that is going to help decide the election. While not as important as Florida, the truth is that Donald Trump pretty much has to have it to have a legitimate shot.

Colorado

All along, most of the pundits have pretty much assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to win Colorado.

Unfortunately for her, the Denver Post is reporting that the number of Republicans that have voted so far exceeds the number of Democrats that have voted…

Republicans took the lead in early voting in Colorado at the end of the day Friday and held the advantage through the weekend despite robust Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts.

The latest early voting numbers released Monday morning show registered Republicans cast 652,380 ballots compared to 645,020 registered Democrats — a 7,360 vote GOP advantage. The breakdown looks like this: 35.2 percent Republican, 34.8 percent Democrat and 28.5 percent unaffiliated.

If Donald Trump could find a way to actually win Colorado, that would definitely lessen the pressure of having to win Nevada where he is not doing nearly as well so far.

Arizona

The state of Arizona used to be considered “deep red” territory, but during this election cycle it has been considered a battleground state.

Fortunately for Trump the poll numbers in Arizona have shifted in his direction in recent days, and the early numbers coming out of the state look very good for him

The Republican lead in absentee ballots returned is 95,000. Bill Dunn, the party’s director of early and absentee voting, said Republicans lead with 36.5 percent of absentee ballots requested but have an even greater advantage in absentee ballots returned, at 40 percent of the total.

In the waning days of the campaign Donald Trump has been criss-crossing the country, and he continues to draw absolutely enormous crowds. Conservative voters are far more enthusiastic about Trump than they were about Romney, but will it be enough?

Some Republican strategists are convinced that it will not be enough. In fact, one of them told CNN that he believes that Hillary Clinton is going to win by “an electoral landslide”…

Hillary Clinton will win in an electoral landslide on Tuesday, but the political baggage she has accumulated over the past year-and-a-half will dissuade congressional Republicans from working with her administration, says longtime Republican political strategist John Weaver.

“I believe she’s going to win in an electoral landslide and be the most unpopular president in electoral history, which is quite the paradox,” Weaver told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

And ultimately it could be the establishment Republicans and the “never-Trumpers” that make the difference and deliver the election to Hillary Clinton. If you can believe it, some establishment Republicans are actually publicly announcing that they have voted for Hillary Clinton and are encouraging others to do the same.

If they can get just five percent of Republicans to follow them, they could completely alter the outcome of the election. So let us hope that does not happen.

On a positive note, on Monday we learned that Hillary Clinton has canceled her celebratory fireworks for Tuesday night. No reason was given for why the fireworks were canceled, but many are taking this as a sign that the Clinton campaign may not be as optimistic as they were previously.

In any event, we don’t have long to wait now until we find out who wins and who loses.

If you want Donald Trump to win, please go vote, because America may never be faced with this kind of a choice again.

I am absolutely convinced that this is a pivotal moment in American history, and on Tuesday night we find out what happens.

May God have mercy on the late, great United States of America.

About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and End Of The American Dream. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Desperately Poor Teens In America’s Impoverished Inner Cities Are Trading Sex For Food

sad-girl-public-domain

When people get hungry enough, they will do just about anything for some food. According to brand new research that was just released this week from Feeding America and the Urban Institute, there are millions of teenagers in America that live in “food insecure” households, and researchers were stunned to learn what some of these teens are willing to do to feed themselves. Some resort to shoplifting, others deal drugs, and there were a surprising number of participants in the study that actually admitted to trading sex for food. It wouldn’t be a shock to hear that these kinds of things are going on in an economically-depressed nation such as Venezuela, but this is the United States of America. We are supposed to be the wealthiest nation on the entire planet. Sadly, even while the stock market has been soaring in recent years, poverty in America has been on the rise. For those on the low end of the economic scale, things have gone from bad to worse since the end of the last recession, and millions of children are deeply suffering as a result.

Let’s start with some of the hard numbers. The following comes directly from the Urban Institute website

An estimated 6.8 million people ages 10 to 17 are food insecure, meaning they don’t have reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. Another 2.9 million are very food insecure, and roughly 4 million live in marginally food secure households, where the threat of running out of food is real.

Food insecurity takes a tremendous toll on teenagers. Poor nutrition—and the stress of hunger and poverty—can jeopardize their physical and mental health and development and their academic success. But despite the gravity and prevalence of teen food insecurity, we know very little about how these young people experience and cope with hunger.

The researchers already knew that lots of young people were hungry in America. But what surprised them were the lengths that many of these youngsters said that they would go to in order to get food

Some of the youths said they or someone they know — mostly young men — have turned to shoplifting food, selling drugs or stealing items to sell.

The teens also reported knowing young women who have sold their bodies for food or had sex for money so they could buy food for their families.

Going to jail or failing a class in order to have to attend summer school were also some of the lengths teens went to.

Could you imagine your daughter or your granddaughter exchanging her body for food?

For most of us that is absolutely unthinkable, but the truth is that this is taking place on the streets of America every single day.

And this wasn’t just some blind random phone survey. The researchers conducted personal interviews with focus groups, and what these kids were willing to admit doing was absolutely astounding. Here is another excerpt directly out of the report

  • When faced with acute food insecurity, teens in all but two of the communities said that youth engage in criminal behavior, ranging from shoplifting food directly to selling drugs and stealing items to resell for cash. These behaviors were most common among young men in communities with the most limited job options.
  • Teens in all 10 communities and in 13 of the 20 focus groups talked about some youth selling sex for money to pay for food. These themes arose most strongly in high-poverty communities where teens also described sexually coercive environments. Sexual exploitation most commonly took the form of transactional dating relationships with older adults.
  • In a few communities, teens talked about going to jail or failing school (so they could attend summer classes and get school lunch) as viable strategies for ensuring regular meals.

Many of these young people understand that what they are doing is wrong. Just consider what some of them told the researchers

A girl in Portland, Oregon told researchers: “It’s really like selling yourself. Like you’ll do whatever you need to do to get money or eat.”

Another comment from Portland: “You’re not even dating … they’ll be like … ‘I don’t really love him, but I’m going to do what I have to do.’”

Many prefer to rationalise what they are doing as dating of sorts. A boy in rural North Carolina said: “When you’re selling your body, it’s more in disguise. Like if I had sex with you, you have to buy me dinner tonight … that’s how girls deal with the struggle … That’s better than taking money because if they take money, they will be labeled a prostitute.”

When I read the information in this report, I was stunned. Yes, I write about our economic decline and the rise in poverty all the time, but I didn’t know that things were this bad.

And the researchers were surprised by what they were hearing as well. One of them said that the fact that girls are trading their bodies for food “was really shocking to me”, and she believes that things are “just getting worse over time”

“I’ve been doing research in low-income communities for a long time, and I’ve written extensively about the experiences of women in high poverty communities and the risk of sexual exploitation, but this was new,” said Susan Popkin, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and lead author of the report, Impossible Choices.

“Even for me, who has been paying attention to this and has heard women tell their stories for a long time, the extent to which we were hearing about food being related to this vulnerability was new and shocking to me, and the level of desperation that it implies was really shocking to me. It’s a situation I think is just getting worse over time.”

But aren’t we being told that things are getting better?

Aren’t we being told that our leaders “fixed” the economy?

Of course the truth is that America is mired in a long-term economic decline that stretches back for decades. With each passing year the middle class gets smaller as a percentage of the population, and poverty continues to grow. Last year the middle class became a minority of the population for the first time ever, and a lot of formerly middle class Americans are now among those that aren’t sure that they are going to have enough food to eat this month.

Hunger in America is a major crisis and it is growing. Just because you may live in a comfortable home in a wealthy neighborhood does not mean that this problem is not real.

Tonight there are millions of Americans that do not know where their next meal is going to come from, and they deserve our love and compassion.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and End Of The American Dream. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

June 23, 2016: The Brexit Vote Could Change EVERYTHING And Plunge Europe Into Financial Chaos

Brexit - Public Domain

On June 23rd, a vote will be held in the United Kingdom to determine if Britain will stay in the European Union or not. This is most commonly known as the “Brexit” vote, and that term was created by combining the words “Britain” and “exit”. If the UK votes to stay in the European Union, things over in Europe will continue on pretty much as they have been. But if the UK votes to leave, it will likely throw the entire continent into a state of economic and financial chaos. And considering how bad the European economy is already, this could be the trigger that plunges Europe into a full-blown depression.

So if things will likely be much worse in the short-term if Britain leaves the EU, then it makes sense for everyone to vote to stay, right?

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Because this choice is not about short-term economics. Rather, the choice is about long-term freedom.

The EU is a horribly anti-democratic bureaucratic monstrosity that is suffocating the life out of most of Europe a little bit more with each passing year. So if I was British, I would most definitely be voting to leave the EU.

And in recent days, the campaign to leave has been rapidly picking up steam. In fact, two of the latest major surveys show that “leave” has taken the lead

An ORB poll for the Telegraph showed 48 percent of Britons would vote to remain in the European Union, while 49 percent would vote to leave.

A YouGov poll for the Times of London showed 46 percent preferred to leave, while 39 percent wanted to remain.

Two other recent polls have “leave” ahead by 10 points, and there is another that actually has “leave” winning by 19 points.

The “leave” movement got a big boost just recently when the Sun officially endorsed that position. The following is an excerpt from the editorial that announced this decision…

WE are about to make the biggest ­political decision of our lives. The Sun urges everyone to vote LEAVE.

We must set ourselves free from dictatorial Brussels.

Throughout our 43-year membership of the European Union it has proved increasingly greedy, wasteful, bullying and breathtakingly incompetent in a crisis.

Next Thursday, at the ballot box, we can correct this huge and ­historic mistake.

It is our last chance. Because, be in no doubt, our future looks far bleaker if we stay in.

I must say that I agree entirely with the Sun. However, everyone needs to understand that a Brexit would be incredibly painful for the UK and for the rest of Europe in the short-term. I think that Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph made this point very well in his recent column…

Let there be no illusion about the trauma of Brexit. Anybody who claims that Britain can lightly disengage after 43 years enmeshed in EU affairs is a charlatan or a dreamer, or has little contact with the realities of global finance and geopolitics.

So what could we potentially see happen?

Well, for one thing big banks like Morgan Stanley are warning that the euro and the British pound could take big hits

The pound and the euro will be hit on a Leave vote, but even if Britain decides to stay in the EU, there will be only “modest gains.” Morgan Stanley expects the pound “to weaken immediately on a vote to Leave, but by year-end we think Euro could weaken even more.”

Secondly, there is a very strong probability that financial markets all over Europe could horribly crash, and the European Central Bank and the Bank of England are already promising to provide artificial support for the markets if that happens. The following comes from Reuters

The European Central Bank would publicly pledge to backstop financial markets in tandem with the Bank of England should Britain vote to leave the European Union, officials with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The preparations illustrate the heightened state of alert ahead of the June 23 referendum, which will help determine Britain’s future in trade and world affairs and also shape the EU. The pound and euro have lost value on fears a Brexit could tip the 28-member bloc into recession.

Such an announcement from the ECB would come on June 24 if an early-morning result showed that British voters had chosen to leave the EU, according to the sources.

But no matter what the consequences are, British voters should do what is right for their future and for the future of their children.

If that means leaving the EU, then so be it.

Needless to say, the prospect of “leave” winning has many among the European elite in full-blown panic mode. For instance, just consider what the current chairman of the Bilderberg Group is saying

Just day after their mysterious annual meeting in Dresden, it appears The Bilderberg Group’s gravest concern is Brexit. While everything from The Middle East to Donald Trump was on the agenda, the remarks this week from AXA CEO (and Chairman of The Bilderberg Group) Henri de Castries that there is an “extremely high” probability that the U.K. will vote to leave the European Union and investors will face “a true landscape of uncertainties,” suggest the establishment is concerned.

If you are not familiar with the Bilderberg Group, please see my recent article on them. Certainly the potential of a coming “Brexit” was high on the list of priorities during their recent conference, and it has been documented that the Bilderberg Group played a key role in the creation of the European Union in the first place. So of course they are not exactly pleased that their grand experiment may now be unraveling right in front of their eyes.

Meanwhile, even without taking into account a potential “Brexit” things just continue to steadily get worse over in Europe. On Tuesday, European stocks hit their lowest levels since the stock market crash that ended in February, and the stocks of both Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse hit all-time record lows

The truth is that those extremely prominent European banks are headed for a collapse even without a “Brexit”. But if there is a “leave” vote, that will just accelerate the process.

And let us not forget that major stock indexes all over Europe are already in a bear market

Meanwhile, German stocks are in a bear-market, with the DAX down 23.2% from its April 2015 peak. The French CAC 40 is down 21.8%. The Spanish Ibex 35 and the Italian MIB are down 31.4% and 32.6% respectively.

Here in the United States, the smart money is dumping stocks like crazy right now, and major investors such as George Soros are feverishly buying gold.

So why are these things happening?

Do those “in the know” have some information regarding what is about to happen over in Europe?

For a long time, I have been sounding the alarm about Europe. If the British people vote to stay in the European Union on June 23rd, the crisis in Europe will certainly continue to escalate, it will just be at a slower pace. But if the British people vote to leave (which they should) that could be the trigger that changes everything.

I don’t know exactly what is going to happen on the 23rd, but without a doubt we should all be watching the outcome very, very closely…

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Rail Traffic Depression: 292 Union Pacific Engines Are Sitting In The Arizona Desert Doing Nothing

Union Pacific Engines - Google Earth

We continue to get more evidence that the U.S. economy has entered a major downturn. Just last week, I wrote about how U.S. GDP growth numbers have been declining for three quarters in a row, and previously I wrote about how corporate defaults have surged to their highest level since the last financial crisis. Well, now we are getting some very depressing numbers from the rail industry. As you will see below, U.S. rail traffic was down more than 11 percent from a year ago in April. That is an absolutely catastrophic number, and the U.S. rail industry is feeling an enormous amount of pain right now. This also tells us that “the real economy” is really slowing down, because less stuff is being shipped by rail all over the nation.

One of the economic commentators that I have really come to respect is Wolf Richter of WolfStreet.com. He has a really sharp eye for what is really going on in the economy and in the financial world, and I find myself quoting him more and more as time goes by. If you have not checked out his site yet, I very much encourage you to do so.

On Wednesday, he posted a very alarming article about what is happening to our rail industry. The kinds of numbers that we have been seeing recently are the kinds of numbers that we would expect if an economic depression was starting. The following is an excerpt from that article

Total US rail traffic in April plunged 11.8% from a year ago, the Association of American Railroads reported today. Carloads of bulk commodities such as coal, oil, grains, and chemicals plummeted 16.1% to 944,339 units.

The coal industry is in a horrible condition and cannot compete with US natural gas at current prices. Coal-fired power plants are being retired. Demand for steam coal is plunging. Major US coal miners – even the largest one – are now bankrupt. So in April, carloads of coal plummeted 40% from the already beaten-down levels a year ago.

Because rail traffic is down so dramatically, many operators have large numbers of engines that are just sitting around collecting dust. In his article, Wolf Richter shared photographs from Google Earth that show some of the 292 Union Pacific engines that are sitting in the middle of the Arizona desert doing absolutely nothing. The following is one of those photographs…

Union Pacific Engines - Google Earth

As Wolf Richter pointed out, it costs a lot of money for these engines to just sit there doing nothing…

These engines are expensive pieces of equipment. When they just sit there, not pulling trains, they become “overcapacity,” and they get very expensive. Then there are engineers and other personnel who suddenly become unproductive. Some of them have already been laid off or are getting laid off.

All over the world, similar numbers are coming in. For example, the Baltic Dry Index fell 30 more points on Wednesday after falling 21 on Tuesday. Global trade is really, really slowing down during the early portion of 2016. What this means on a practical level is that a lot less stuff is being bought, sold and shipped around the planet.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for authorities to deny that a new global recession has begun, and at this moment we are only in the very early chapters of this new crisis.

Another thing that I watch very closely is the velocity of money. When an economy is healthy, people feel pretty good about things and money tends to circulate fairly rapidly. For example, I may buy something from you, then you may buy something from someone else, etc.

But when times get tough, people tend to hold on to their money more tightly, and that is why the velocity of money goes down when recessions hit. In the chart below, the shaded areas represent recessions, and you can see that the velocity of money has declined during every single recession in the post-World War II era…

M2 Velocity Of Money

During the last recession, the velocity of money declined precipitously, and that makes perfect sense. But then a funny thing happened. There was a slight bump up once the recession was over, but then it turned down again and it has kept going down ever since.

In fact, the velocity of money has now dropped to an all-time low. The velocity of M2 just recently dipped below 1.5 for the first time ever.

This is not a sign of an “economic recovery”. What this tells us is that our economy is very, very sick.

And we can see evidence of this sickness all around us. For instance, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that homelessness in Los Angeles increased by 11 percent last year, and this marked the fourth year in a row that homelessness in the city has increased…

Homelessness rose 11% in the city of Los Angeles and 5.7% in the county last year despite an intensive federal push that slashed the county ranks of homeless veterans by nearly a third, according to a report released Wednesday.

The increase marks the fourth consecutive year of rising homelessness in L.A., as local officials struggle to identify funding for billion-dollar plans they approved to solve the nation’s most intractable homeless problem.

Let us also not forget that about half the country is basically flat broke at this point.

Just recently, the Federal Reserve found that 47 percent of all Americans could not pay an unexpected $400 emergency room bill without selling something or borrowing the money from somewhere.

With numbers such as these being reported, how in the world can anyone possibly claim that the U.S. economy is in good shape?

It boggles the mind, and yet there are people out there that would actually have you believe that everything is just fine.

The current occupant of the White House is one of them.

With each passing month, the real economy is getting even worse. We may not have slipped into a full-blown economic depression just yet, but it is coming.

For now, let us be thankful for whatever remains of our debt-fueled prosperity, because we don’t deserve the massively inflated standard of living that we have been enjoying.

We have been consuming far more than we produce for decades, but it won’t last for much longer. And when those days are gone for good, we will mourn them bitterly.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Stories Of Despair From The Forgotten People That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

Forgotten - Public Domain

There is so much economic despair in our country today, but if you have a good job and if you live in a good neighborhood you might not ever encounter it. There really are “two Americas” in 2016, and they are getting farther and farther apart with each passing year. On the one hand, you have lots of people smiling in New York City these days because of the stock market boom, and property values have soared to ridiculous levels in San Francisco because of the tech bubble. But in between the two coasts there are vast stretches of forgotten people that the U.S. economy has left behind. In this article I am going to share some of their stories with you.

Because I run a website called The Economic Collapse Blog, I hear from a lot of people that are really struggling in this economy. Just yesterday, I posted an article entitled “In 1 Out Of Every 5 American Families, Nobody Has A Job“, and one of my regular readers left the following comment on that article…

After 5-6 some odd years I finally got a decent tech job that pays a couple of bucks more than typical fast food. For the first time in a long time I can say we are coming out of the black. But however, it’s a shaky recovery. If I lose this job at anytime in the next few years it will be devastating so I’m taking the opportunity to win back my certs so that I can get a higher paying tech job.

Here’s to keeping fingers crossed…

In many areas of the nation today, it is a real challenge to find a good job. According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year at this point, and you can’t support a middle class family on $30,000 a year. The American Dream feels like it has ended for millions upon millions of families, and this is leading to a lot of depression and despair.

I would like to share with you three comments that were recently left on a New York Times article about depression. In all three instances, the commenters link their battle with depression with the economy in some way…

#1 But for me, I see another change that has affected me as I have entered the high risk age group. Over the years, as the economy dumps, as the businesses that have employed people in my region have cut staff, or just gone away, I have seen almost every friend that I have made in the last 30 years move away. My social network imploded.

For those who cannot easily recreate new sets of friendships, especially if they are un- or underemployed, and have fractured family relationships, there is little social support to help stave off depression. And for more and more people who are working, the push to work independently, not in an office atmosphere, creates even more isolation.

#2 I have been diagnosed and have been taking meds and in therapy for 30 years. And I was hanging in there until I lost everything. College educated, a professional for 30 years, I am now on Disability and Obamacare, both of which are on the chopping block. I watch the election process in terror and wonder what will happen to people like me. Medically I am bipolar, but now I am indigent, and if I can’t access health care or a place to live, I’m done. All the Prozac in the world won’t change that.

#3 I became disabled ten years ago in my mid-forties. I live alone and have no family and no friends. I miss my career so much, and having a social life. Being disabled means having less money than ever, but with greater medical costs that ever. I think of suicide quite a bit. I’m so lonely and poor. Then I got cancer a few years ago which is in remission but causing other health problem. I’m doing my best to continue to afford to keep my dog. She’s only 4 and could live another 14 years. I’m giving her the best life possible and I don’t want to leave her. She keeps me going and is the only love I have in my life. I wish there were more social service in the U.S. for people like me. If I ever “get better”, or win the lottery, I will be a fierce advocate to improve the quality of life for people like me who have fallen through the cracks. I’m living a life that is hell on earth. I can see why some people in similar situations choose to “opt out” when every day is painful and lonely.

Those that insist that “everything is going to be just fine” are ignoring millions of stories such as these.

There are so many Americans that are going through enormous suffering in quiet solitude, and because they aren’t marching in the streets they are forgotten about by the rest of us.

But of course not everyone suffers so quietly. Sometimes desperate people do desperate things, and all over the nation we are seeing rates of violent crime start to rise.

And not every person that commits acts of violent crime is looking to hurt people. Sometimes all they want is some food. The following comes from Natural News

According to a heartbreaking report by All Self Sustained, an elderly man was threatened with a knife last month by a man and a woman in a home invasion – the pair were looking to steal food.

71-year-old Luis Rosales answered the door of his New Jersey apartment in the afternoon and was confronted by a man and woman who were armed with an eight-inch kitchen knife. The pair forced themselves inside, threatening Rosales with death if he made too much noise.

The suspects used pepper spray to affect Rosales’ vision before ransacking his apartment and raiding his fridge, telling Rosales that they were hungry. They also took his wallet.

We are witnessing the slow-motion meltdown of society, and this is something that I talked about in my article yesterday and that I talk about in my new book entitled “The Rapture Verdict“.

Even with the “recovery” we have supposedly experienced, 47 percent of all Americans could not even pay an unexpected $400 emergency room bill without borrowing the money from somewhere or selling something.

And things are not going to be getting any better for the economy moving forward. The despair and desperation that we have seen so far are nothing compared to what is coming.

A tremendous amount of love and compassion is going to be required in the years ahead, because huge numbers of people are going to be really hurting.

So how will you respond when people all around you are in very deep trouble?

Will you “bunker up”, or will you be willing to reach out and help those less fortunate than yourself?

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of End Of The American Dream. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

The Decline Of America: Will The U.S. Collapse Due To An Internal Societal Meltdown?

American Flag Blowing In The Wind - Public Domain

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for the United States of America? All great nations eventually fall, and the United States is not going to be any exception. Many of those that write about the decline of our once great country tend to focus on external threats, and there are certainly many that could be talked about. But perhaps even more ominous is the internal societal meltdown that we see happening all around us. According to Real Clear Politics, recent surveys show that 67 percent of Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track, and only 26 percent of Americans believe that it is headed in the right direction. So even though we are tremendously divided as to what the solutions are, the vast majority of us can see that something is deeply, deeply wrong with America.

Personally, I spend a lot of time writing about our economic problems. We have piled up the largest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, last year the middle class became a minority for the first time in our history, and 47 percent of all Americans couldn’t even pay an unexpected $400 emergency room bill without borrowing the money or selling something. But I don’t want to focus on economics in this article.

Neither do I plan to focus on our political problems. The fact that somewhere around half the country plans to vote for Hillary Clinton in November shows just how far gone we are as a nation. And the Republican Party is essentially just a watered-down version of the Democrats at this point. On average, Congress has just a 14.5 percent approval rating, and yet we keep sending the same corrupt politicians back to Washington D.C. time after time.

What in the world is wrong with us?

Physically we are a giant mess too. According to USA Today, the obesity rate in the United States has more than doubled over the past 25 years, and the OECD has found that the U.S. has the most overweight population in the entire industrialized world by a wide margin.

But our physical problems are not going to be the focus of this article either.

Instead, I want to focus on what is going on inside our heads and inside our hearts. I want to focus on our mental, emotional and spiritual problems.

Alvin Conway of The Extinction Protocol has been chronicling global disasters for years, and he has just posted an insightful piece in which he comments on the growing social decay that we see all around us…

According to Covenant Eyes, an internet search group, 1 out of 5 mobile searches on the internet involves pornography. Illegal drugs continue to be both manufactured and transported into the U.S. with no apparent way of halting or stopping the flow. In the US alone, more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs, more than the combined number of people who reportedly abuse cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin. If the war against drugs can’t be won, what luck will we ever have winning the war on terror? Does anyone remember who won Lyndon B. Johnson’s famed war on poverty? Regardless, let’s throw some more taxpayers’ money at an issues that money along can’t fix.

Later in his article, Conway goes on to link this social decay with the spiritual decline of our nation…

According to Pew Forum, the number of people who claim to be religious in America is declining as the country becomes more and more secular. “Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.” The U.S. is beginning to look more and more like ancient Rome before it collapsed.

I agree with Conway. America is starting to look more and more like the Roman Empire just before it collapsed.

A nation is only as strong as its population, and right now we are quite a disaster. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate in the United States has spiked to the highest level in almost 30 years. The following is an excerpt from a Washington Post article entitled “U.S. suicide rate has risen sharply in the 21st century“…

The U.S. suicide rate has increased sharply since the turn of the century, led by an even greater rise among middle-aged white people, particularly women, according to federal data released Friday.

Last decade’s severe recession, more drug addiction, “gray divorce,” increased social isolation, and even the rise of the Internet and social media may have contributed to the growth in suicide, according to a variety of people who study the issue.

That same article goes on to say that the suicide rate in this country increased by a whopping 24 percent from 1999 to 2014.

Is that a sign of a healthy nation?

At this point things have gotten so bad that even 70 percent of our pastors are battling depression. The following was authored by respected journalist Jennifer LeClaire

There is no lack of statistics about pastors and depression, burnout, health, low pay, spirituality, relationships and longevity—and none of them are good. According to the Schaeffer Institute, 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families; and 70 percent say they don’t have a close friend.

The Schaeffer Institute also reports that 80 percent of seminary and Bible school graduates will leave the ministry within five years.

We are a deeply, deeply unhappy nation, and we have been trained to turn to pills as the solution.

According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 59 percent of all U.S. adults are on at least one prescription drug at this point, and 15 percent of all U.S. adults are on at least five prescription drugs.

Those are absolutely astounding numbers to me. We are the most drugged up nation on the face of the planet, and yet we just keep on getting less happy.

Here are some more selected numbers from a previous article that back up that claim…

Back in 1987, 61.1 percent of all Americans reported being happy at work. Today, 52.3 percent of all Americans say that they are unhappy at work.

A different survey found that 70 percent of all Americans do not “feel engaged or inspired at their jobs”.

One survey of 50-year-old men in the U.S. found that only 12 percent of them said that they were “very happy”.

The number of Americans diagnosed with depression increases by about 20 percent each year.

According to the New York Times, more than 30 million Americans take antidepressants.

Doctors in the United States write more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants each year.

The rate of antidepressant use among middle aged women is far higher than for the population as a whole. It is hard to believe, but right now one out of every four women in their 40s and 50s is taking an antidepressant medication.

Compared to children in Europe, children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants.

In America today, there are 60 million people that abuse alcohol and there are 22 million people that use illegal drugs.

America has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.

America has the highest divorce rate in the world by a wide margin.

America has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire planet.

100 years ago, 4.52 people were living in the average U.S. household, but now the average U.S. household only consists of 2.59 people.

We are more isolated, more lonely and more miserable than we have ever been before.

But does that mean that we are on the verge of collapsing as a nation?

Just like during the days of the Roman Empire, most Americans cannot even conceive of a time when America will be no more. And yet we can all see that the foundations are being constantly chipped away at.

Will we be able to survive once our foundations are totally gone?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of End Of The American Dream. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Depressing Survey Results Show How Extremely Stupid America Has Become

No Thinking - Public Domain

Ten years ago, a major Hollywood film entitled “Idiocracy” was released, and it was an excellent metaphor for what would happen to America over the course of the next decade. In the movie, an “average American” wakes up 500 years in the future only to discover that he is the most intelligent person by far in the “dumbed down” society that he suddenly finds himself in. Sadly, I truly believe that if people of average intellect from the 1950s and 1960s were transported to 2016, they would likely be considered mental giants compared to the rest of us. We have a country where criminals are being paid $1000 a month not to shoot people, and the highest paid public employee in more than half the states is a football coach. Hardly anyone takes time to read a book anymore, and yet the average American spends 302 minutes a day watching television. 75 percent of our young adults cannot find Israel on a map of the Middle East, but they sure know how to find smut on the Internet. It may be hard to believe, but there are more than 4 million adult websites on the Internet today, and they get more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.

What in the world has happened to us? How is it possible that we have become so stupid? According to a brand new report that was recently released, almost 10 percent of our college graduates believe that Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court…

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni publishes occasional reports on what college students know.

Nearly 10 percent of the college graduates surveyed thought Judith Sheindlin, TV’s “Judge Judy,” is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Less than 20 percent of the college graduates knew the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation. More than a quarter of the college graduates did not know Franklin D. Roosevelt was president during World War II; one-third did not know he was the president who spearheaded the New Deal.

It can be tempting to laugh at numbers like these until you realize that survey after survey has come up with similar results.

Just consider what Newsweek found a few years ago…

When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.

Even worse were the extremely depressing results of a study conducted a few years ago by Common Core…

*Only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between 1850 and 1900.

*More than a quarter of all U.S. high school students thought that Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean after the year 1750.

*Approximately a third of all U.S. high school students did not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

*Only 60 percent of all U.S. students knew that World War I was fought some time between 1900 and 1950.

Of course survey results can be skewed, and much hinges on how the questions are asked.

However, even studies that are scientifically conducted confirm how stupid America has become. In fact, a report from the Educational Testing Service found that Americans are falling way behind much of the rest of the industrialized world. The following comes from CBS News

Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The study looked at scores for literacy and numeracy from a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tested the abilities of people in 22 countries.

The results are sobering, with dire implications for America. It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level. Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher levels of education, they’re still falling behind their cohorts in other countries. In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said.

Out of 22 countries that were part of the study, the Educational Testing Service found that Americans were dead last in tech proficiency, dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

So why has this happened?

Why have we become such an extremely stupid nation?

Well, at least a portion of the blame must be directed at our system of education. The following is an excerpt from an article written by reporter Mark Morford. In this article, he shared how one of his friends which had served for a very long time as a high school teacher in Oakland, California was considering moving out of the country when he retired due to the relentless “dumb-ification of the American brain”

It’s gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad.

Now, you may think he’s merely a curmudgeon, a tired old teacher who stopped caring long ago. Not true. Teaching is his life. He says he loves his students, loves education and learning and watching young minds awaken. Problem is, he is seeing much less of it.

And of course things don’t get much better when it comes to our college students. In a previous article, I shared some statistics from USA Today about the rapidly declining state of college education in the United States…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”

-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”

-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”

-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”

-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

I spent eight years studying at some of the finest public universities in the country, and I can tell you from personal experience that even our most challenging college courses have been pathetically dumbed down.

And at our “less than finest” public universities, the level of education can be something of a bad joke. In another previous article, I shared some examples of actual courses that have been taught at U.S. universities in recent years…

-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?

-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame

-“Philosophy And Star Trek

-“Learning From YouTube

-“How To Watch Television

Could you imagine getting actual college credit for a course entitled “What If Harry Potter Is Real?”

This is why many of our college graduates can barely put two sentences together. They aren’t being challenged, and the quality of the education most of them are receiving is incredibly poor.

But even though they aren’t being challenged, students are taking longer to get through college than ever. Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of all full-time students receive a bachelor’s degree within four years, and only 77 percent of all full-time students have earned a bachelor’s degree by the end of six years.

Of course our system of education is not entirely to blame. The truth is that young Americans spend far more time consuming media than they do hitting the books, and what passes for “entertainment” these days is rapidly turning their brains to mush.

According to a report put out by Nielsen, this is how much time the average American spends consuming media on various devices each day…

Watching live television: 4 hours, 32 minutes

Watching time-shifted television: 30 minutes

Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes

Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Using Internet on a computer: 1 hour, 6 minutes

When you add it all up, the average American spends more than 10 hours a day plugged into some form of media.

And if you allow anyone to pump “programming” into your mind for 10 hours a day, it is going to have a dramatic impact.

In the end, I truly believe that we all greatly underestimate the influence that the mainstream media has on all of us. We willingly plug into “the Matrix” for endless hours, but then somehow we still expect “to think for ourselves”.

There are very few of us that can say that we have not been exposed to thousands upon thousands of hours of conditioning. And all of that garbage can make it very, very difficult to think clearly.

It is not because of a lack of input that we have become so stupid as a society. The big problem is what we are putting into our minds.

If we continue to put garbage in, we are going to continue to get garbage out, and that is the cold, hard reality of the matter.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Thanks To The Republican Civil War, Every Scenario Ends With Hillary Clinton Winning The Election

Hillary Clinton_Testimony_to_House_Select_Committee_on_Benghazi - Public Domain

What is the worst possible outcome for the presidential election of 2016? Assuming that an election will actually take place, that is an easy question to answer – Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next president of the United States. She is truly evil in every sense of the word, and the implications of what four (or eight) years of Hillary would mean for our nation are almost too terrible to imagine. That is why it is so depressing watching what is happening to the Republican Party right now. The civil war in the Republican Party is ripping it to shreds, and as a result of all this warfare every plausible scenario for what will happen the rest of the way ends with Hillary Clinton winning the 2016 election.

According to the Associated Press, here is how the Republican delegate count stands as of right now…

Donald Trump: 384

Ted Cruz: 300

Marco Rubio: 151

John Kasich: 37

Ted Cruz looks like he is within shooting distance of Trump, but that is an illusion. The early part of the schedule was full of states where Cruz was expected to do well, but now the map is going to work very much against him.

At this point, the only candidate that looks like he may be able to accumulate 1,237 delegates before the convention is Trump, and that is far from guaranteed. So far, Trump has won approximately 44 percent of the delegates during the caucuses and primaries. By the time it is all said and done, he will need to have slightly more than 60 percent of all the delegates awarded during the caucuses and primaries to guarantee himself the nomination before the Republican convention. That is because there are hundreds of delegates that are not awarded during the caucuses and the primaries, and almost all of those delegates are members of the Republican establishment.

Trump can still get there by racking up large delegate totals in winner-take-all states such as California, but it will be a challenge. The entire Republican Party establishment, Fox News, Glenn Beck and a significant number of other prominent conservative voices have all declared war on Trump. In fact, there are super PACs that are going to spend tens of millions of dollars doing nothing but trying to destroy Trump.

If the Republican Party actually wanted to beat Hillary Clinton in November, they should be rallying around Trump and trying to help him, because he would definitely need a lot of help to win the general election.

According to Real Clear Politics, the latest three polls all have Trump losing to Clinton by at least 5 points. In key states such as Michigan, the numbers are quite a bit more dismal. Over the next few months, those numbers are likely to get even worse as Trump is savagely assaulted by the Republican establishment and relentlessly bombarded by tens of millions of dollars of negative attack ads. Meanwhile, Clinton is cruising along virtually unscathed.

Of course in a just world Hillary Clinton would have already been arrested and put in prison. There is no possible way that she should be running for president of the United States. Unfortunately, we live in a deeply corrupt society, and this is the way that things work.

If by some miracle he does survive to become the nominee, a significantly weakened Trump would then have to face the full power of the Clinton political machine. It is estimated that a billion dollars could be spent on the Democratic side this time around, and Trump does not have the resources to match that. Normally big Republican donors rally around the nominee, but in this case the big money is fighting like crazy to defeat Trump. In a general election matchup, it really would be David vs. Goliath, and Trump would not be Goliath.

If Donald Trump does not accumulate 1,237 delegates before the convention, then we would be headed for what is known as a “brokered convention“. The rules are very complicated, but the key thing to remember is that the delegates are only bound for the first vote. After that, they can vote for whoever they want.

And it is very important to note that the campaigns don’t pick their delegates. Becoming a delegate is a long and tedious process in most states, and most of them are party loyalists.

In the end, a “brokered convention” would almost certainly result in an establishment candidate being chosen as the nominee. Needless to say, the names “Trump” and “Cruz” would not be on that list.

Have you noticed that Mitt Romney has started to put himself out there lately? His verbal attacks on Trump have been absolutely scathing, and he told Fox News that he would not say no if he was “drafted” to become the nominee at the Republican convention…

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee, repeated remarks from last week, telling “Fox News Sunday” that he wouldn’t launch an eleventh-hour campaign for president. But he declined to reject being “drafted” at the GOP convention in July to be the party’s general election candidate.

It would be absurd to say that if I were drafted I’d say no,” Romney said.

Behind the scenes, much more is going on. In fact, CNN is reporting that Romney’s team is actively working on a plan to steal the nomination from Trump at the convention…

Mitt Romney has instructed his closest advisers to explore the possibility of stopping Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, a source close to Romney’s inner circle says.

The 2012 GOP nominee’s advisers are examining what a fight at the convention might look like and what rules might need revising.

It sounds like the plan is to lock the convention,” said the source.

If Romney does emerge as the nominee, does anyone actually believe that he will defeat Clinton?

Of course not. Trump’s millions of supporters will be absolutely infuriated, and many of them would absolutely refuse to cast a vote for Romney in the general election.

In the end, it would be the same result – a victory for Hillary Clinton.

The next few weeks are going to be very interesting. If Trump wins Florida and Ohio, there is going to be a lot of pressure on Marco Rubio and John Kasich to get out of the race, and the path to 1,237 delegates would appear to be clear.

However, Mitt Romney could attempt to derail the Trump bandwagon by jumping in the race after March 15th. Romney’s goal would be to capture enough delegates in winner-take-all states such as California to keep Trump from getting to the magic number of 1,237. If Romney could do that, he knows that he would likely come out of a brokered convention as the nominee.

But no matter what happens on the Republican side from this point forward, it is going to take a miracle of epic proportions to keep Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency. Every plausible scenario ends with her in the White House, and that is a truly horrible thing to imagine.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Suicide Epidemic: Why Does The Number Of People Killing Themselves Just Keep Going Up?

Suicide - Public Domain

Did you know that more Americans now die from suicide than are killed in car crashes each year? According to the CDC, there has been a substantial spike in suicide deaths in the United States in recent years. Today, approximately 9.3 million Americans admit to having suicidal thoughts, and approximately 2.7 million Americans each year actually make a plan for how they would commit suicide. We are a deeply, deeply unhappy nation, but of course this phenomenon is not just limited to America. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is now the third highest cause of death in the entire world. Globally, suicide rates have soared by 60 percent over the past 45 years, and the WHO is now projecting that by the year 2020 someone will be committing suicide somewhere in the world every 20 seconds.

There was an article in the Guardian that I came across today that was entitled “Financial despair, addiction and the rise of suicide in white America“. It discussed the extremely alarming rise in the suicide rate among Americans that are approaching retirement age. Many in this age group are drowning in debt, dealing with out of control medical bills, have saved very little for retirement and are dealing with significant physical pain. One fact that I was astounded to learn is that in the state of Montana there are 82 painkiller prescriptions for every 100 people. In a desperate attempt to find a way out, many Americans this age are considering suicide. 56-year-old Kevin Lowney is one example

Kevin Lowney lies awake some nights wondering if he should kill himself.

I am in such pain every night, suicide has on a regular basis crossed my mind just simply to ease the pain. If I did not have responsibilities, especially for my youngest daughter who has problems,” he said.

The 56-year-old former salesman’s struggle with chronic pain is bound up with an array of other issues – medical debts, impoverishment and the prospect of a bleak retirement – contributing to growing numbers of suicides in the US and helping drive a sharp and unusual increase in the mortality rate for middle-aged white Americans in recent years alongside premature deaths from alcohol and drugs.

And this isn’t just an American phenomenon. Over in the United Kingdom, one study discovered that the suicide rate for men between the ages of 45 and 49 had increased by 40 percent over a seven year period…

The number of middle-aged men taking their own lives has increased dramatically over the course of the last decade.

New research, published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, reveals that the last seven years have seen a 40 percent increase in the suicide rate of men between the ages of 45 and 49.

Younger people are killing themselves more frequently as well.

According to a Fox News report, the suicide rate for Americans age 10 to age 24 has “gone up every year”…

Their deaths as well as other recent teen suicides to make national headlines — from Westport, Conn., to Omaha, Neb., — are part of a steady rise in self-inflicted deaths among young people, ages 10 to 24, since 2007, according to health officials.

“We are seeing significant increases in suicide for those ages,” Dr. Thomas Simon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s suicide expert, told FoxNews.com. “When you go back to 2007, the rates in that age group have gone up every year.

So why is this happening?

Without a doubt, the decline of our economy is playing a role. The middle class is steadily shrinking, and more Americans are falling out of the middle class with each passing month. Many Americans that are approaching retirement age do not see any viable future for themselves, and thus many of them are completely giving in to depression and despair.

But I don’t think that explains all of it. I think another major factor is the fact that our society is being drugged into oblivion. At this point, nearly 60 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and many drugs are known to substantially increase the risk of suicide.

Instead of addressing these root causes, many want the government to step in and magically solve this problem somehow. In fact, there is a new proposal for mandatory depression screening that many are warning could have very serious consequences. The following is an excerpt from a piece that Ron Paul recently authored

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended mandatory depression screening for all Americans. The task force wants to force health insurance companies to pay for the screening. Basic economics, as well as the Obamacare disaster, should have shown this task force that government health insurance mandates harm Americans.

Government health insurance mandates raise the price of health insurance. Consumers will respond to this increase by either choosing to not carry health insurance or by reducing their consumption of other goods and services. Imposing new health insurance mandates will thus make consumers, many of whom are already suffering from Obamacare’s costly mandates, worse off by forcing them to deviate from their preferred consumption patterns.

Mandatory depression screening will not just raise insurance costs. In order to ensure that the screening mandate is being properly implemented, the government will need to create a database containing the results of the screenings. Those anti-gun politicians who want to forbid anyone labeled “mentally ill” from owning a firearm will no doubt want to use this database as a tool to deprive individuals of their Second Amendment rights.

Mandatory screening is not going to solve this problem. That will just result in even more people being put on anti-depressants and make the pharmaceutical companies even wealthier.

In the end, the real problem is in our hearts. We have pushed God to the outer fringes of society, and we have decided that we can set up our own version of utopia without Him.

Well, that isn’t exactly working out too well, is it?

If you know someone that is depressed and may be considering suicide, the following are some of the signs that livescience.com says that you should watch for…

  • feelings of hopelessness or desperation
  • insomnia
  • panic attacks
  • social isolation
  • irritability
  • rage
  • feelings of being a burden

Life is about so much more than the amount of things that we own or the amount of money in our bank accounts.

Many of these people that are contemplating suicide could have futures that are brighter beyond what they could possibly imagine, but they are focusing on all the wrong things.

So what do you think is causing the stunning rise in suicide both here in the United States and around the globe?

Please feel free to share your thoughts with the rest of us by leaving a comment below…

21 Facts About Depression In America That Will Absolutely Shock You

Sad - Public Domain

How can we possibly be so miserably unhappy? For a nation that supposedly “has it all”, we sure are depressed. In America today, suicide rates are soaring, antidepressant use is skyrocketing and virtually every new survey that comes out shows that we are deeply dissatisfied about something. But we live at a time when there are more things to enjoy than ever before. When I was growing up there was only a handful of television channels to choose from, but now there are hundreds. We have more movies than we could ever possibly watch, more books than we could ever possibly read, and the greatest video games ever made are at our fingertips. With all of the entertainment that surrounds us, you would think that Americans would be happier than ever before, and yet we continue to become even more depressed. Everywhere I go, I see people that look like they have had the life completely sucked out of them. So why is this happening? The following are 21 signs that Americans are the unhappiest people in the entire world…

#1 A scientific study that was just released found that U.S. adults are becoming less happy over the years

“Adults over 30 are less happy than their predecessors,” concludes a study published online Thursday in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, which examined happiness data from more than 50,000 adults, gleaned from the General Social Survey, carried out by NORC at the University of Chicago, a nonpartisan, independent research organization, which has collected information about American adults since 1972.

From 2010 to 2014, adults over 30 had an average happiness score of just 2.18, compared with 2.24 a decade ago. That’s significant considering happiness scores were measured on a tiny scale from just 1 to 3, with 1 being “not too happy” and 3 being “very happy.”

#2 Young people are also becoming increasingly depressed. Just check out what one study conducted at San Diego State University discovered

Americans are more depressed now than they have been in decades, a recent study has found. San Diego State University (SDSU) psychology professor Jean M. Twenge analyzed data from nearly 7 million adolescents and adults from across the country and found that more people reported symptoms of depression — including sleeplessness and trouble concentrating — compared to the 1980s.

Twenge’s findings show that teenagers in the 2010s experience memory trouble 38 percent more often than their 1980s counterparts. Teens are also 74 percent more likely to have trouble sleeping and twice as likely to see a professional for mental health issues. College students in the study reported feeling overwhelmed by academic and personal demands 50 percent more often than their 1980s counterparts.

#3 Back in 1987, 61.1 percent of all Americans reported being happy at work. Today, 52.3 percent of all Americans say that they are unhappy at work.

#4 A different survey found that 70 percent of all Americans do not “feel engaged or inspired at their jobs”.

#5 One survey of 50-year-old men in the U.S. found that only 12 percent of them said that they were “very happy”.

#6 The number of Americans diagnosed with depression increases by about 20 percent each year.

#7 According to the New York Times, more than 30 million Americans take antidepressants.

#8 Doctors in the United States write more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants each year.

#9 The rate of antidepressant use among middle aged women is far higher than for the population as a whole. It is hard to believe, but right now one out of every four women in their 40s and 50s is taking an antidepressant medication.

#10 Compared to children in Europe, children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants.

#11 In America today, there are 60 million people that abuse alcohol and there are 22 million people that use illegal drugs.

#12 America has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.

#13 One recent poll found that 71 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction that things are going in this country.

#14 America has the highest divorce rate in the world by a wide margin.

#15 America has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire planet.

#16 100 years ago, 4.52 people were living in the average U.S. household, but now the average U.S. household only consists of 2.59 people.

#17 According to the Pew Research Center, only 51 percent of all American adults are married. Back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in the United States were married.

#18 The suicide rate in the United States is now the highest that it has been in 25 years.

#19 According to one absolutely shocking study, 22 military veterans kill themselves in the United States every single day.

#20 The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 rose by close to 30 percent between 1999 and 2010. The number of Americans that are killed by suicide now exceeds the number of Americans that die as a result of automobile accidents every year.

#21 The rate of suicide is highest during the holidays that come at the end of the year, and 45 percent of all Americans say that they dread the Christmas season. The following comes from a Psychology Today article

We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience the highest incidence of depression. Hospitals and police forces report the highest incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season.

So why in the world is this happening?

We have one of the highest standards of living in the world and we are surrounded by massive amounts of entertainment.

Yet we are severely depressed.

And during the “happiest time of the year” we get even more depressed.

Clearly something has gone very wrong.

Even more entertainment is not going to fix us, and neither will more drugging.

So what will finally make us happy?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

(Originally published on End of the American Dream)

The Most Depressing Time Of The Year In The Most Depressed Nation On The Planet

Hope Despair - Public Domain

Did you know that the rate of suicide is highest during this time of the year and that 45 percent of all Americans dread the Christmas season? We are constantly being told that Christmas is the happiest time of the year, but mental health professionals tell us that the exact opposite is true. For large numbers of Americans, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is filled with stress, anxiety, loneliness and family squabbles. And for most people, the reality of the holidays never even comes close to matching up with the glittering ideal portrayed in movies and on television. As a result, depression tends to spike during the month of December. And of course Americans are quite depressed most of the time anyway. In fact, one out of every ten Americans is on an antidepressant as you read this article. No other nation in the world even approaches that level. So right now we are in the midst of the most depressing time of the year in the most depressed nation on the entire planet. What is wrong with this picture?

A lot of people start to feel down this time of the year, and they don’t realize that there are millions of others that are going through the exact same thing. The following excerpt from a Psychology Today article explains that this is something that happens every Christmas season…

We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience the highest incidence of depression. Hospitals and police forces report the highest incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season.

So when we get depressed, what do we do?

Well, we do what we always do for depression.

We start popping pills.

Today, America is the most drugged up nation on the face of the Earth by a wide margin. Just consider the following numbers…

-Americans account for about five percent of the global population, but we consume more than 50 percent of the pharmaceutical drugs. At the moment, the number one selling pharmaceutical drug in America is called Thorazine. It is used as a supplement to other antidepressant drugs.

According to the New York Times, more than 30 million Americans are currently taking antidepressants.

-The number of people that are clinically diagnosed with depression is growing at a rate of 20 percent annually.

The rate of antidepressant use among middle aged women is far higher than for the population as a whole. It is hard to believe, but right now one out of every four women in their 40s and 50s is taking an antidepressant medication.

-The percentage of women taking antidepressants in the United States is significantly 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.

If all of these antidepressants are helping, then why are more Americans killing themselves? The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 increased by nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2010. The number of Americans that die by suicide is now greater than the number of Americans that die as a result of car accidents every year.

Sadly, most Americans have absolutely no idea that the latest scientific studies indicate that many of these drugs could actually be quite dangerous.

For example, one recent study found that children that take antidepressants are more likely to attempt suicide

High doses of brain-altering chemicals marketed as “anti-depressants” increase the likelihood of self-harm, rather than decreasing the risk, say Harvard health scientists in a study that analyzed data on 162,625 people.

Drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) may raise the risk of suicidal behavior in children and young adults, according to the analysis. SSRI’s are the chemical substances which make up the antidepressants Prozac and Zoloft.

“Our findings offer clinicians an additional incentive to avoid initiating pharmacotherapy at high-therapeutic doses,” Harvard School of Public Health researchers said.

Another recent study found that pregnant mothers that take antidepressants are more likely to have babies with brain defects

Almost one in five children born to mothers taking antidepressants during pregnancy have a brain defect – called a “Chiari type 1 malformation” – according to a groundbreaking study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study, titled Rate of Chiari I Malformation in Children of Mothers with Depression with and without Prenatal SSRI Exposure, was published May 19 in the peer-reviewed journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

The researchers found that “children of depressed mothers treated with a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy were more likely to develop Chiari type 1 malformations than were children of mothers with no history of depression,” according to their press statement.

Perhaps popping pills is not the solution after all.

If you are battling depression, one of the key things to do is to look at your diet. What we eat and what we drink plays a massive role in how we feel and how our brain functions. If you start eating better, your life will improve in a multitude of ways.

And certainly there are natural ways to battle depression. If you want to learn more about this, Natural News has some great articles on the subject.

But more important than all of those things is the fact that most Americans today simply do not have anything to live for.

These days, most people just seem to be living for themselves. They chase one form of entertainment after another, hoping that something will eventually fill the gaping holes that are constantly aching inside their hearts. Many go to their graves never finding the fulfillment that they were desperately searching for all of their lives.

You have got to have something to live for that really matters. That is something that I have found, and it has made all the difference. No matter how broken your life is right now, the key is to never, ever, ever give up. As long as you keep fighting, there is always hope that things can be turned around.

So don’t give in to depression this Christmas season.

Yes, this world is an incredibly messed up place.

Yes, things are going to get a lot worse in the years ahead.

But that doesn’t mean that the future has to be bleak for you.

The best chapters of your life could be right around the corner, so don’t you ever, ever give up.

(Originally published on End of the American Dream)

The most popular drug in America is an antipsychotic — and no one really knows how it works

Pill Bottle - Public Domain

Does anyone remember Thorazine? It was an antipsychotic given to mentally ill people, often in institutions, that was so sedating, it gave rise to the term “Thorazine shuffle.” Ads for Thorazine in medical journals, before drugs were advertised directly to patients, showed Aunt Hattie in a hospital gown, zoned out but causing no trouble to herself or anyone else. No wonder Thorazine and related drugs Haldol, Mellaril and Stelazine were called chemical straitjackets.

But Thorazine and similar drugs became close to obsolete in 1993 when a second generation of antipsychotics which included Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Geodon and Abilify came online. Called “atypical” antipsychotics, the drugs seemed to have fewer side effects than their predecessors like dry mouth, constipation and the stigmatizing and permanent facial tics known as TD or tardive dyskinesia. (In actuality, they were similar.) More importantly, the drugs were obscenely expensive: 100 tablets of Seroquel cost as much as $2,000, Zyprexa, $1,680 and Abilify $1,644.

One drug that is a close cousin of Thorazine, Abilify, is currently the top-selling of all prescription drugs in the U.S. marketed as a supplement to antidepressant drugs, reports the Daily Beast. Not only is it amazing that an antipsychotic is outselling all other drugs, no one even knows how it works to relieve depression, writes Jay Michaelson. The standardized United States Product Insert says Abilify’s method of action is “unknown” but it likely “balances” brain’s neurotransmitters. But critics say antipsychotics don’t treat anything at all, but zone people out and produce oblivion. They also say there is a concerning rise in the prescription of antipsychotics for routine complaints like insomnia.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

This Is About As Good As Things Are Going To Get For The Middle Class – And It’s Not That Good

Depressed - Public Domain

The U.S. economy has had six full years to bounce back since the financial collapse of 2008, and it simply has not happened. Median household income has declined substantially since then, total household wealth for middle class families is way down, the percentage of the population that is employed is still about where it was at the end of the last recession, and the number of Americans that are dependent on the government has absolutely exploded. Even those that claim that the economy is “recovering” admit that we are not even close to where we used to be economically. Many hope that someday we will eventually get back to that level, but the truth is that this is about as good as things are ever going to get for the middle class. And we should enjoy this period of relative stability while we still can, because when the next great financial crisis strikes things are going to fall apart very rapidly.

The U.S. Census Bureau has just released some brand new numbers, and they are quite sobering. For example, after accounting for inflation median household income in the United States has declined a total of 8 percent from where it was back in 2007.

That means that middle class families have significantly less purchasing power than they did just prior to the last major financial crisis.

And one research firm is projecting that it is going to take until 2019 for median household income to return to the level that we witnessed in 2007…

For everybody wondering why the economic recovery feels like a recession, here’s the answer: We’re still at least five years away from regaining everything lost during the 2007-2009 downturn.

Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicts that real median household income — perhaps the best proxy for middle-class living standards — won’t reach the prior peak from 2007 until 2019. Since the numbers are adjusted for inflation, that means the typical family will wait 12 years until their purchasing power is as strong as it was before the recession. That would be the longest period of stagnation, by far, since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Of course that projection assumes that the economy will continue to “recover”, which is a very questionable assumption at best.

Meanwhile, total household wealth has been declining for middle class families as well.

According to the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.

That is a pretty substantial drop. But you never hear our politicians (especially the Democrats) bring up numbers like that because they want us to feel good about things.

So why is all of this happening?

The biggest reason why the middle class is struggling so much is the lack of good jobs.

As the chart posted below demonstrates, the percentage of the working age population that is actually employed is still way, way below where it was prior to the last recession…

Employment Population Ratio

The “employment recovery” (the tiny little bump at the end of the chart) has been so miniscule that it is hardly even worth mentioning.

At the moment, we still have 1.4 million fewer full-time jobs than we did in 2008 even though more than 100,000 people are added to the U.S. population each month.

And a lot of the workers that have lost jobs since the start of the last recession have never been able to find a new one.

According to a brand new survey conducted by Rutgers University, more than 20 percent of all workers that have been laid off in the past five years still have not found a new job.

Meanwhile, the control freak bureaucrats that run this country continue to kill off small businesses.

In recent years we have seen large numbers of small businesses fail, and at this point the rate of small business ownership in the United States is at an all-time low.

As a result of everything that you have just read, the middle class is shrinking and dependence on the government is soaring.

Today, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity, and Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.

For many more statistics just like this, please see my previous article entitled “30 stats to show to anyone that does not believe the middle class is being destroyed“.

Without a doubt, things are not that good for the middle class in America these days.

Unfortunately, the next great wave of financial trouble is rapidly approaching, and once it strikes things are going to get substantially worse for the middle class.

Yes, the stock market set record high after record high this summer. But what we have observed is classic bubble behavior. So many of the exact same patterns that occurred just prior to previous stock market crashes are happening once again.

And it is interesting to note that September 22nd has marked important market peaks at various times throughout history…

For traders, September 22 is one of those days with a notorious history. UBS’s Art Cashin notes that September 22 marked various market highs in 1873, 1929, 1980, and even as recent as 2008.

Could the coming months be the beginning of the next major stock market decline?

Small-cap stocks are already starting to show signs of real weakness. In fact, the Russell 2000 just hit a “death cross” for the first time in more than 2 years

The Russell 2000 has been diverging from the broader market over the last several weeks, and now technicians point out it has flashed a bearish signal. For the first time in more than two years, the small-cap index has hit a so-called death cross.

A death cross occurs when a nearer-term 50-day moving average falls below a longer-term, 200-day moving average. Technicians argue that a death cross can be a bearish sign.

None of us knows what the market is going to do tomorrow, but a lot of the “smart money” is getting out of the market right now while the getting is good.

So where is the “smart money” putting their assets?

In a previous article, I discussed how sales of gold bars to wealthy clients is way up so far this year.

And CNBC has just reported that the ultra-wealthy “are holding mountains of cash” right now…

Billionaires are holding mountains of cash, offering the latest sign that the ultra-wealthy are nervous about putting more money into today’s markets.

According to the new Billionaire Census from Wealth-X and UBS, the world’s billionaires are holding an average of $600 million in cash each—greater than the gross domestic product of Dominica.

Why are they doing this?

Are they concerned about the potential of a market crash?

And if we do see another market crash like we witnessed back in 2008, what is that going to mean for the rest of us?

2008 certainly did not destroy our economy.

But it did cause an immense amount of damage that we have never recovered from.

Now the next wave is approaching, and most people don’t even see it coming.

(Originally posted at The Economic Collapse Blog)

America: Land Of 1,000 Addictions

Depressed - Photo by Sander van der Wel

Eighty-five percent of young men and nearly half of young women watch porn at least once a month, while one in eight online searches and one in five mobile searches are for porn, 24 percent of smartphone owners admit to having pornographic material on their mobile handset, and 69 percent of the pay-per-view Internet content market is pornography.

Children are not spared: Nine out of 10 boys and six out of 10 girls are exposed to porn before age 18, and 20 percent of 16-year-olds and 30 percent of 17-year-olds have received a sext, while nearly one in five young people 18-24 have sent a sext.

And it gets worse. Fifteen percent of boys and 9 percent of girls have seen child pornography, while 32 percent of boys and 18 percent of girls have seen bestiality online, 39 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls have seen sexual bondage online, 83 percent of boys and 57 percent of girls have seen group sex online, and 69 percent of boys and 55 percent of girls have seen homosexual sex online.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Data Brokers Know When You Are Sick, Tired And Depressed

Internet

From the diseases you battle to the pills you pop, your most personal health information could be for sale.

That’s because some data brokers are collecting information from the surveys you take, websites you visit, products you buy and mobile apps you use to create lists of consumers with certain health issues or medical conditions. They then sell this information to marketers and other companies.

Diabetes, depression, herpes, yeast infections, erectile dysfunction and bed-wetting are just a few of the highly sensitive conditions for which consumer lists are available.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!