The College Admissions Scandal Is A Perfect Example Of How Deeply Corrupt America Has Become

Is there anything left in this country that has not been deeply tainted by corruption? By now you have probably heard that dozens of people have been arrested for participating in a multi-million dollar college admissions scam. Enormous amounts of money were paid out in order to ensure that children from very wealthy families were able to get into top schools such as Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California. We should certainly be disgusted by these revelations, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Such corruption happens every single day on every single level of society in America. At this point our nation is so far gone that it is shocking when you run into someone that actually still has some integrity.

The “mastermind” behind this college admissions scam was a con man named William Rick Singer. He had been successfully getting the kids of wealthy people into top colleges for years using “side doors”, and he probably thought that he would never get caught.

But he did.

There were four basic methods that Singer used to get children from wealthy families into elite schools. The first two methods involved bribes

Bribing college entrance exam administrators to allow a third party to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams, in some cases by posing as actual students,’ is the first.

Bribing university athletic coaches and administrators to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits – regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport,’ is the second.

Because many of these kids didn’t even play the sports they were being “recruited” for, in some cases Photoshop was used to paste their faces on to the bodies of real athletes

In order to get non-athletic kids admitted to college as athletes, Singer often had to create fake profiles for them. Sometimes this involved fabricating resumes that listed them having played on elite club teams, but to finish the illusion Singer and his team would also use Photoshop to combine photos of the kids with actual athletes in the sport.

A number of college coaches became exceedingly wealthy from taking bribes to “recruit” kids that would never play once they got to school, but now a lot of those same coaches are probably going to prison.

The third and fourth methods that Singer used involved more direct forms of cheating

‘Having a third party take classes in place of the actual students, with the understanding that the grades earned in those classes would be submitted as part of the students’ application,’ is the third.

The fourth was ‘submitting falsified applications for admission to universities … that, among other things, included the fraudulently obtained exam scores and class grades, and often listed fake awards and athletic activities.’

Of course the main thing that the media is focusing on is the fact that some celebrities are among those being charged in this case, and that includes Lori Loughlin from “Full House”

It was important to “Full House” star Lori Loughlin that her kids have “the college experience” that she missed out on, she said back in 2016.

Loughlin, along with “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman, is among those charged in a scheme in which parents allegedly bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Despite how cynical I have become lately, I never would have guessed that Lori Loughlin was capable of such corruption.

After all, she seems like such a nice lady on television.

But apparently she was extremely determined to make sure that her daughters had “the college experience”, and so Loughlin and her husband shelled out half a million dollars in bribes

Loughlin and Giannulli ‘agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team – despite the fact that they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC,’ according to the documents.

As bad as this scandal is, can we really say that it is much worse than what is going on around the rest of the country every single day?

Of course not.

We are a very sick nation, and we are getting sicker by the day.

William Rick Singer had a good con going, and he should have stopped while he was ahead

William “Rick” Singer said he had the inside scoop on getting into college, and anyone could get in on it with his book, “Getting In: Gaining Admission To Your College of Choice.”

“This book is full of secrets,” he said in Chapter 1 before dispensing advice on personal branding, test-taking and college essays.

But Singer had even bigger secrets, and those would cost up to $1.2 million.

But like most con men, Singer just had to keep pushing the envelope, and in the end it is going to cost him everything.

The ironic thing is that our colleges and universities are pulling an even bigger con. They have convinced all of us that a college education is the key to a bright future, but meanwhile the quality of the “education” that they are providing has deteriorated dramatically. I spent eight years in school getting three degrees, and so I know what I am talking about. For much more on all this, please see my recent article entitled “50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America’s Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists”.

I know that it is not fashionable to talk about “morality” and “values” these days, but the truth is that history has shown us that any nation that is deeply corrupt is not likely to survive for very long.

Our founders understood this, and former president John Adams once stated that our Constitution “was made only for a moral and religious people”

Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Today, we are neither moral or religious.

What we are is deeply corrupt, and America will not survive if we keep going down this path.

About 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.

Millennials Are More Than A Trillion Dollars In Debt, And Most Of Them Don’t Even Own A Home

When compared to a similar point in time, Millennials are deeper in debt than any other generation that has come before them. And the biggest reason why they are in so much debt may surprise you. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about the giant mountain of debt that Millennials have accumulated. According to the New York Fed, the total amount of debt that Millennials are carrying has risen by a whopping 22 percent in just the last five years

New findings from the New York Federal Reserve reveal that millennials have now racked up over US$1 trillion of debt.

This troubling amount of debt, an increase of over 22% in just five years, is more than any other generation in history. This situation may leave you wondering how millennials ended up in such a sorry state.

Many young adults are absolutely drowning in debt, but the composition of that debt is quite different when compared to previous generations at a similar point in time.

Mortgage debt and credit card debt levels are far lower for Millennials, but the level of student loan debt is far, far higher

While the debt levels accumulated by millennials eclipse those of the previous generation, Generation X, at a similar point in time, the complexion of the debt is very different.

According to a 2018 report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, mortgage debt is about 15% lower for millennials and credit card debt among millennials was about two-thirds that of Gen X.

However, student loan debt was over 300% greater.

Over the last 10 years, the total amount of student loan debt in the United States has more than doubled.

It is an absolutely enormous financial problem, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution. Some politicians on the left are pledging to make college education “free” in the United States, but they never seem to explain who is going to pay for that.

But what everyone can agree on is that student loan debt levels are wildly out of control. The following statistics come from Forbes

The latest student loan debt statistics for 2019 show how serious the student loan debt crisis has become for borrowers across all demographics and age groups. There are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans. Borrowers in the Class of 2017, on average, owe $28,650, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

What makes all of this even more depressing is the fact that the quality of “higher education” in the U.S. has gone down the toilet in recent years. For much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America’s Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists”.

Our colleges and universities are not adequately preparing our young people for their future careers, but they are burdening them with gigantic financial obligations that will haunt many of them for decades to come.

We have a deeply broken system, and we desperately need a complete and total overhaul of our system of higher education.

Due to the fact that so many of them are swamped by student loan debt, the homeownership rate for Millennials is much, much lower than the homeownership rate for the generations that immediately preceded them. The following comes from CNBC

The homeownership rate for those under 35 was just 36.5 percent in the last quarter of 2018, compared with 61 percent for those aged 35 to 44, and 70 percent for those aged 45 to 54, according to the U.S. Census. The millennial homeownership rate actually dropped in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, but was unchanged year over year.

This is one of the big reasons why “Housing Bubble 2” is beginning to burst. There are not enough Millennials buying homes, and it looks like things could be even worse for Generation Z.

If you are a young adult, I would encourage you to limit your exposure to student loan debt as much as possible, because the debt that you accumulate while in school can have very serious long-term implications that you may not even be considering right now.

About 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.

50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America’s Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists

What in the world are they teaching to our young people? As you go through the list of college course titles below, I am sure that many of you will be completely shocked. Most parents assume that they are sending their children to college to get prepared for their future careers, but the truth is that a lot of our major colleges and universities have become little more than indoctrination centers for progressive thought. Our college students are literally being systematically trained to be socialists, and it is working. According to a brand new Harris Poll that was just released, 37.2 percent of all Americans “prefer living in a socialist country”. But for Millennials and Generation Z combined, that figure is 49.6 percent. That means that essentially half of our young adults want to be socialists, and that has enormous implications for the future of our society.

So how did this happen?

Well, the truth is that it really isn’t a mystery. Progressives have a stranglehold on higher education in the United States, and they are training future generations of leaders to think just like them.

Young America’s Foundation has just released their yearly report on the craziest college courses in America, and I pulled some examples out of that report that demonstrate how bad things have gotten.

The following are 50 actual college course titles that prove that America’s universities are literally training our college students to be socialists…

#1 Harvard University: FRSEMR 62O—Who is a Fascist? Culture and Politics on the Radical Right

#2 Princeton University: FRS 139—Marx in the 21st Century

#3 Yale University: AMST 469a—Progressivism: Theory and Practice

#4 University of Alabama: SW 351—Oppression & Social Justice

#5 University of Florida: WST 3349—Ecofeminism

#6 University of Florida: POT 4053—Great Political Thinkers: Machiavelli to Marx

#7 University of Kentucky: SOC 235—Inequalities in Society

#8 University of Missouri: PSYCH 4984—Promoting Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion Capstone

#9 Middlebury College: AMST 0269—Beyond Intersectionality: Developing Anti-Racist and Anti-Capitalist Feminisms

#10 Middlebury College: ECON 0405—Economics of Discrimination

#11 University of Minnesota: AFRO 1917—Inequality and the American Dream

#12 University of Minnesota: SOC 3507—Immigration to the United States: Beyond Walls

#13 University of Minnesota: CSCL 3405—Marx for Today

#14 University of Minnesota: CI 5137—Multicultural Gender-Fair Curriculum

#15 University of Iowa: GWSS 1005—Introduction to Social Justice

#16 University of Iowa: GWSS 2045—Working for Social Justice

#17 University of Illinois: GWS 337—Interrogating Masculinities

#18 Indiana University: GNDR-G 330—Looking Like a Feminist: Visual Culture and Critical Theory

#19 University of Maryland: WMST 300—Feminist Reconceptualizations of Knowledge

#20 University of Michigan: WOMENSTD 434—Eco/Queer/Feminist Art Practices

#21 Michigan State University: ANP 859—Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change: Methods and Application

#22 Ohio State University: WGSST 3200—Breaking the Law: An Introduction to Gender Justice

#23 Penn State University: AFAM 147—The Life and Thought of Malcolm X

#24 Purdue University: OLS 45400—Gender And Diversity In Management

#25 University of Wisconsin: HISTORY 346—Trans/Gender in Historical Perspective

#26 University of Wisconsin: GEN&WS 536—Queering Sexuality Education

#27 University of Wisconsin: AFRICAN 233—Global HipHop and Social Justice

#28 Williams College: AFR 342—Racial Capitalism

#29 Williams College: AMST 219—Understanding Social Class

#30 Williams College: ENVI 103—Global Warming and Environmental Change

#31 Amherst College: POSC 407—Contemporary Debates: Gender and Right-Wing Populism

#32 Amherst College: SWAG 351—From Birth to Death: LGBTQ Life Trajectories

#33 Swarthmore College: ENVS 043—Race, Gender, Class and Environment

#34 Swarthmore College: RELG 032—Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology

#35 Swarthmore College: RELG 033—Queering the Bible

#36 Wellesley College: AMST 281—Rainbow Republic: American Queer Culture from Walt Whitman to Lady Gaga

#37 Wellesley College: SOC 205—Modern Families and Social Inequalities

#38 Carleton College: POSC 275—Black Radical Political Thought

#39 Pomona College: AFRI144A—Black Women Feminism(s) and Social Change

#40 Pomona College: GWS142—Queering Childhood

#41 Claremont McKenna College: GOVT113—Inequality, Politics, and Public Policy: Class, Race, and Gender

#42 Davidson College: SOC 356—Feminization of Poverty

#43 Butler University: RI379—The Problem of God

#44 Creighton University: ANT 178—Global Citizenship

#45 DePaul University: LGQ 338—Sexual Justice: Lesbians, Gays and the Law

#46 Georgetown University: WGST 250—The Breast: Image, Myth, Legend

#47 Providence College: SOC 418—Globalization and Social Justice

#48 St. John’s University: SOC 1170—Inequality; Race, Class and Gender

#49 University of Pennsylvania: RELS 110—American Jesus

#50 University of Pennsylvania: URBS 050—Womanism and Identity Politics in the Realm of Hip-Hop

This system of “higher education” has produced Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and millions of young radical leftists just like her.

And even though she has only been in Congress for a little more than two months, AOC is already one of the most popular politicians in America.

Unfortunately, she is tremendously disgusted with capitalism. In fact, according to NBC News she just told a large crowd that capitalism “cannot be redeemed”…

She dismissed concern about the government taking over corporations, which she said she doesn’t favor, by saying “corporations have already taken over our government.”

Instead, she said, her view of democratic socialism emphasizes making everything, politics and the economy, more democratic. And she said capitalism — which she defined as an ideology of “putting profit above of everything else in society” — “cannot be redeemed.”

Is this where our country is headed?

Is there any hope that we can return to the values that this nation was founded upon?

We better hope so, because those values helped us to become the greatest nation on the entire planet. I really like how Trish Regan made this point in her recent piece

America is losing its way amid this socialism madness. The new alt-left’s mob-like insanity is spinning a lie– a lie that capitalism is bad and that capitalists are bad.

Capitalism has made us what and who we are as an economy and as a nation.

Alexander Hamilton said during the founding years of our great republic:

“True liberty, by protecting the exertions and talents of industry, and securing to them their justly acquired fruits, tends more powerfully than any other cause to augment the mass of national wealth and to produce the mischiefs of opulence.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Defense of the Funding System,” July 1795, in Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. 19, p. 32.

I very much agree with her. As a nation, we are definitely losing our way.

Hopefully we can find our way back, because the path that we are currently on doesn’t lead anywhere good.

About 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.

Global Inequality Explodes: 26 Ultra-Wealthy Billionaires Now Have As Much Money As The Poorest 3.8 Billion People

If you add together all of the money owned by the poorest 3.8 billion people living on this planet, it would roughly equal the wealth controlled by the 26 wealthiest men in the world. Oxfam has just issued a brand new report on global inequality, and what they have discovered is making headlines all over the globe. The rich just keep getting richer, and meanwhile the slice of the pie owned by the poor just keeps getting smaller. Today, almost half the world lives on less than $5.50 a day, and approximately 795 million people “do not have enough food”. And even in a “wealthy country” like the United States, the gap between the rich and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and more than half a million Americans are homeless right now. This growing inequality is a ticking time bomb, and at some point it is going to explode.

According to Oxfam’s new report, global billionaires got 12 percent richer during 2018.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that the poorest half of the world’s population got 11 percent poorer. The following comes from the Guardian

Oxfam said the wealth of more than 2,200 billionaires across the globe had increased by $900bn in 2018 – or $2.5bn a day. The 12% increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.

As a result, the report concluded, the number of billionaires owning as much wealth as half the world’s population fell from 43 in 2017 to 26 last year. In 2016 the number was 61.

We are clearly going in the wrong direction.

Every year global wealth just keeps becoming more and more concentrated, and it makes you wonder how all of this will eventually end.

You can only push people down for so long before they finally explode.

What we need is a system that empowers everyone. All over the world we need more entrepreneurs, more small business owners and more risk-takers. But instead, what we have is a system that centralizes wealth in the hands of a few and that keeps everyone else down. Here are some more numbers from Oxfam’s new report

  • In the 10 years since the financial crisis, the number of billionaires has nearly doubled.
  • Between 2017 and 2018 a new billionaire was created every two days.
  • The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, saw his fortune increase to $112bn. Just 1% of his fortune is equivalent to the whole health budget for Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people.
  • The poorest 10% of Britons are paying a higher effective tax rate than the richest 10% (49% compared with 34%) once taxes on consumption such as VAT are taken into account.

Today, the global financial system is literally a wealth extraction machine. It has been designed to systematically funnel as much wealth to the top of the pyramid as possible. In a recent article, I discussed the fact that the world is now 244 trillion dollars in debt…

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and one of the primary ways that the elite keep the rest of us subjugated is through the $244,000,000,000,000 mountain of global debt that has been accumulated. Every single day, the benefits of our labor are going to enrich somebody else. A portion of the taxes that are deducted from your paycheck is used to pay interest on government debt. A portion of the profits that your company makes probably goes to servicing some form of business debt. And most Americans are continuously making payments on their mortgages, their auto loans, their credit card balances and their student loan debts. But most people never stop to think about who is becoming exceedingly wealthy on the other end of these transactions. Needless to say, it isn’t the 46 percent of the global population that is living on less than $5.50 a day.

The global elite have always understood the magic of compound interest, and they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Of course the left keeps insisting that the way to end all of this inequality is to hit the wealthy really hard with more taxes. But the truth is that the wealthy have become absolute masters at legal tax evasion. The U.S. tax code is millions of words long for a reason, and it is absolutely full of loopholes. Whenever taxes get raised it is hard working people like you and me that get slammed, and meanwhile the elite just deep finding more ways to slither out of paying their share.

And most people don’t want government handouts anyway. What people want is to be able to work hard and take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the game is rigged against the small guy today. In the U.S., small business creation and the percentage of Americans that are working for themselves are both near record lows.

Instead, more wealth and more power become concentrated in the hands of corporations with each passing year. Our country is now completely and utterly dominated by big business, big government and big finance, and such a system greatly benefits those at the very top.

If we want a more equitable system, we will need to rediscover the values of our forefathers. Our founders were greatly suspicious of large concentrations of power, and so they sought to establish a very limited federal government, and they greatly restricted the size, scope and power of corporations.

Unfortunately, we have been going in the exact opposite direction for decades, and it won’t be easy to turn the boat around now.

But if we don’t, wealth and power will continue to become more concentrated in the hands of the elite, and that is a recipe for disaster.

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.

Why Does America Have 13 Million Households That Don’t Have Enough Food To Eat?

Have you ever had a day when your children were crying due to hunger but the cupboards were completely bare and your bank account was empty? If you haven’t, you should consider yourself to be extremely blessed, because this is what real life feels like for millions upon millions of Americans in 2018. As you will see below, a third of all Americans cannot even afford “the basics” each month, and 13 million households are officially considered to be “food insecure”. In other words, they don’t have enough to eat. Many parents out there choose to skip a meal (or two) each day just so that their kids can have full stomachs. But sometimes the money runs out completely, and that is when it gets really tough.

In recent years, the wealthy have been doing quite well, and many of them have very little sympathy for the struggles of the poor.

But the cold, hard reality of the matter is that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is now the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and approximately one-third of the entire nation cannot even afford the basics each month

Consider the following statistics. The average American can’t scrape together $500 for an emergency. A third of Americans can’t afford food, shelter, and healthcare. Healthcare for a family now costs $28k — about half of median income, which is $60k.

Those are very sobering numbers, and you won’t often hear them repeated by the mainstream media.

For a moment, I would like you to consider three questions…

-Have you ever avoided taking a family member to the hospital because you were afraid of what the bill might look like?

-Have you ever turned off your phone because you were sick and tired of getting calls from bill collectors?

-Have you ever laid awake at night with a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach because you didn’t know how you were going to pay the bills at the end of the month?

If so, you certainly have a lot of company. The truth is that most American families are deeply struggling, and those that are “doing well” make up only a very small percentage of the overall population.

Not too long ago, CNN profiled a two-year-old boy named Ryder Pfaffly and the rest of his household. Sadly, they are one of the 13.1 million households in America that do not have enough food to eat…

Ryder’s family represents America’s 13.1 million households with children that often go without food: “food-insecure households.”

“Food is a struggle at times,” said Ryder’s mom, Kelly Ann Pfaffly, who also is raising a newborn boy.

Pfaffly, 23, and her 24-year-old husband, Justin, have been married five years. They — along with Ryder, his 7-year-old sister and his infant brother — all live in a small room at the hotel. “We’ve been struggling for quite sometime now,” she said. “But we always find a way to make it.”

Of course Ryder and his family are far from alone. At this point, more than half of all U.S. households with children receive assistance from the government each month. The middle class is steadily eroding, and the ranks of the “working poor” have been growing rapidly.

Many of the working poor are single parents, and they often suffer in silence because they don’t want those around them to look down on them. Here is an excerpt from one single mom’s heartbreaking story

I stared potential landlords down with a seven-year-old standing next to me and a baby on my hip, asking to apply for a tiny studio apartment I could barely afford. I spoke to a dozen secretaries at local churches, asking if they had funds to help me pay for childcare. I went hungry and bounced checks to order pizza for dinner.

Struggling to take care of my daughter on my own, I needed whatever government assistance I qualified for – a few hundred bucks a month in food stamps, free school lunches, childcare vouchers and coupons for milk and cheese – while I simultaneously worked as a maid, juggling 10 clients between going to class to put myself through college. Very few of my friends knew. They didn’t know the work I put into finding these resources – hours on the phone, standing in line, handing over thick packets to prove my need.

It can be absolutely soul crushing to work as hard as you possibly can day after day and it still isn’t enough.

It has been said that money can’t buy happiness, and that is true, but it can certainly make things easier.

According to a very startling Gallup survey, those that are living in poverty are about twice as likely to have struggled with depression as those that are not…

Americans in poverty are more likely than those who are not to struggle with a wide array of chronic health problems, and depression disproportionately affects those in poverty the most. About 31% of Americans in poverty say they have at some point been diagnosed with depression compared with 15.8% of those not in poverty. Impoverished Americans are also more likely to report asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart attacks — which are likely related to the higher level of obesity found for this group — 31.8% vs. 26% for adults not in poverty.

After digesting these numbers, some of the things that we have seen happen politically in this country start to make sense. Americans are looking for hope, and so many of them keep going back and forth from one party to the other hoping that someone can come up with some solutions that will start to make their lives better.

Unfortunately, our system has not been fixed, and we live at a time when the economy is beginning to really slow down again. During the last recession, thousands of businesses went under, millions of people lost their jobs and multitudes of Americans could no longer pay their mortgages. The same thing will happen again, and it will be very painful for our society.

One trend that is going to continue to escalate is different generations all living together under one roof. Even though the U.S. economy supposedly “recovered” after the last recession, this is a trend that has been steadily rising

A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center found 52% of U.S. residents in their 60s—17.4 million people—are financially supporting either a parent or an adult child, up from 45% in 2005. Among them, about 1.2 million support both a parent and a child, more than double the number a decade earlier, according to an analysis of the Pew findings and census data.

The squeeze is coming from both ends. With lifespans growing longer, the number of 60-somethings with living parents has more than doubled since 1998, to about 10 million, according to an Urban Institute analysis of University of Michigan data, and they are increasingly expensive to care for. At the same time, many boomers are helping their children deal with career or health problems, or are sharing the heavy burden of student loans.

In the end, you have got to do what you have got to do in order to survive from month to month.

At one time, America’s “endless prosperity” seemed like it would roll on indefinitely, but now we have entered a different era.

Things are going to be tough during the days to come, and we are all going to need more flexibility than ever before.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Middle Class Erosion: 33 Million Americans Will Not Travel During The Holidays Because They Can’t Afford To Do So

We have repeatedly been told that the U.S. economy is “booming”, but meanwhile the middle class in the United States continues to be hollowed out. The financial bubbles that the Federal Reserve has created have been a great blessing for those at the very top of the economic pyramid, but most of the country is still deeply struggling. According to one survey, 78 percent of all full-time workers in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck, and that doesn’t even include part-time workers or those that are unemployed. We have also been told that unemployment is “low”, but the real numbers tell us that there are more working age Americans without a job in 2018 than there was at any point during the last recession. Most of the people that my wife and I know are struggling, and I continually get emails from readers all over the country that are struggling. The sad truth is that the middle class is slowly but surely dying, and more people are falling into poverty with each passing day.

And we got more evidence of this fact on Tuesday. According to one new survey, 33 million Americans will not travel during the holiday season because they simply cannot afford to do so…

Wallet Hub’s Winter Travel Survey has revealed a disturbing trend: 33 million Americans won’t travel this winter because they can’t afford it.

I have been warning about the effect that rising interest rates would have on the economy, and rising rates are being blamed for this travel slowdown. The following comes from MSN

However, Americans are still feeling the pinch of the pocketbook—part of that has to do with rising interest rates.

“U.S. consumers will be shelling out billions of dollars in extra charges they otherwise could be spending on other things such as travel,” said Mark A. Bonn, director of the resort and vacation rental management program at Florida State University. “This makes it difficult to travel now, let alone after the holiday spending has ended.”

But of course the truth is that most Americans were deeply struggling long before interest rates started to rise.

Those of us in our prime working years can try to work even harder to make ends meet, but when you are elderly and on a fixed income, there is little that can be done.

According to the Sacramento Bee, 9 million elderly Americans across the country “can’t afford to eat”, and in one of their recent articles they featured the plight of 71-year-old Floridian Janet Burke…

Burke is one of the nearly 9 million elderly people at risk of hunger in the United States. In Florida, with the highest percentage of people 60 and older, more than 750,000 elderly need food assistance, according to experts.

The problems confronting the elderly have become one of the hot topics for candidates this election year. Candidates in South Florida have pointed to the needs of the elderly as one of the key concerns voiced by voters.

More than 100 million Americans receive assistance from the government each month, but many citizens do not believe in receiving any help and so they just quietly suffer as they search for a way to make things better.

Today, I would like to share with you a testimony from someone that has been there. My good friend Daisy Luther knows what it is like to barely survive from month to month, and the way that she described those struggles in one of her most recent articles was extremely poignant

Let’s talk about poverty.

I don’t mean the kind you’re talking about when your friends invite you to go shopping or for a night out and you say, “No, I can’t. I’m poor right now.”

I don’t mean the situation when you’d like to get a nicer car but decide you should just stick to the one you have because you don’t have a few thousand for a down payment.

I don’t mean the scene at the grocery store when you decide to get ground beef instead of steak.

I’m talking about when you have already done the weird mismatched meals from your pantry that are made up of cooked rice, stale crackers, and a can of peaches, and you’ve moved on to wondering what on earth you’re going to feed your kids.

Or when you get an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, a shut-off notice for your utilities, and a repo notice for your car and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about any of those notices because there IS NO MONEY.

If you’ve never been this level of broke, I’m very glad.

I have been this broke. I know that it is soul-destroying when no matter how hard you work, how many part-time jobs you squeeze in, and how much you cut, you simply don’t make enough money to survive in the world today.

If the U.S. economy really is “booming”, then why are millions upon millions of American families struggling like this?

Sadly, it is because the truth is that the U.S. economy is not “booming”, and we continue to get more indications that another major economic downturn is imminent.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Blueprints have been proposed that would mean much better days ahead for America, but most Americans seem quite content with the status quo.

Most Americans seem to want corrupt politicians in Washington, a Federal Reserve system that is bankrupting future generations, an exploding national debt, a deeply oppressive system of taxation and a bloated national government that is becoming more monstrous with each passing day.

In this day and age, “liberty” and “freedom” are seen as antiquated concepts that are standing in the way of “progress”, and more government always seems to be the “solution” that is proposed whenever any crisis arises.

If we truly want to turn America around, we need to return to the values and the principles that once made this nation so great, and right now that simply is not happening…

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

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The American Dream Is Getting Smaller, And The Reason Why Is Painfully Obvious…

Over the past decade, an unprecedented stock market boom has created thousands upon thousands of new millionaires, and yet the middle class in America has continued to shrink. How is that even possible? At one time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet, but now the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s. Our economy has been creating lots of new millionaires, but at the exact same time we have seen homelessness spiral out of control in our major cities. Today, being part of the middle class is like playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs. Each month when the music stops playing, those of us still in the middle class desperately hope that we are not among the ones that slip out of the middle class and into poverty. Well over 100 million Americans receive money or benefits from the federal government each month, and that includes approximately 40 percent of all families with children. We are losing our ability to take care of ourselves, and that has frightening implications for the future of our society.

One of the primary reasons why our system doesn’t work for everyone is because virtually everything has been financialized. In other words, from the cradle to the grave the entire system has been designed to get you into debt so that the fruits of your labor can be funneled to the top of the pyramid and make somebody else wealthier. The following comes from an excellent Marketwatch article entitled “The American Dream is getting smaller”

More worrying, perhaps: 33% of those surveyed said they think that dream is disappearing. Why? They have too much debt. “Americans believe financial security is at the core of the American Dream, but it is alarming that so many think it is beyond their reach,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S.

Almost everyone that will read this article will have debt. In America today, we are trained to go into debt for just about everything.

If you want a college education, you go into debt.

If you want a vehicle, you go into debt.

If you want a home, you go into debt.

If you want that nice new pair of shoes, you don’t have to wait for it. Just go into more debt.

As a result, most Americans are currently up to their necks in red ink

Some 64% of those surveyed said they have a mortgage, 56% said they had credit-card debt and 26% said they have student-loan debt. Many surveyed said they don’t feel financially secure. More than a quarter said they wish they had better control of their finances.

You would have thought that we would have learned from the very hard lessons that the crisis of 2008 taught us.

But instead, we have been on the greatest debt binge in American history in recent years. Here is more from the Marketwatch article

It makes sense that debt is on Americans’ minds. Collectively, Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt, according to the Federal Reserve. They have another $1.5 trillion in student loans, up from $1.1 trillion in 2013. Motor vehicle loans are now topping $1.1 trillion, up from $878.5 billion in 2013. And they have another nearly $15 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding.

That is one huge pile of debt.

We criticize the federal government for running up 21 trillion dollars in debt, and rightly so, but American consumers have been almost as irresponsible on an individual basis.

As long as you are drowning in debt, you will never become wealthy. In order to build wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn, but most Americans never learn basic fundamentals such as this in our rapidly failing system of public education.

Many Americans long to become financially independent, but they don’t understand that our system is rigged against them. The entire game is all about keeping consumers on that debt wheel endlessly chasing that piece of proverbial cheese until it is too late.

Getting out of debt is one of the biggest steps that you can take to give yourself more freedom, and hopefully this article will inspire many to do just that.

To end this article today, I would like to share 14 facts about how the middle class in America is shrinking that I shared in a previous article

#1 78 million Americans are participating in the “gig economy” because full-time jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet these days.

#2 In 2011, the average home price was 3.56 times the average yearly salary in the United States. But by the time 2017 was finished, the average home price was 4.73 times the average yearly salary in the United States.

#3 In 1980, the average American worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary. Today, that number has ballooned to 5.00.

#4 In the United States today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

#5 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now. That number is higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

#6 Earnings for low-skill jobs have stayed very flat for the last 40 years.

#7 Americans have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

#8 In the United States today, the average young adult with student loan debt has a negative net worth.

#9 At this point, the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

#10 Poverty rates in U.S. suburbs “have increased by 50 percent since 1990”.

#11 Almost 51 million U.S. households “can’t afford basics like rent and food”.

#12 The bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households bring home just 11.4 percent of all income.

#13 According to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans do not have enough money to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something they own.

#14 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog. About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

As The Wealthy Flock To The Major Cities On Both Coasts, Poverty And Suicide Soar In Rural Areas

America is increasingly becoming a divided nation. Those with money are flocking to the major cities on both coasts, while many of those that don’t are fleeing to rural areas. As a result, economic conditions can look vastly different depending on where you live. In large cities on the east and west coasts that have been heavily “gentrified”, it can seem like times have never been better. Alternatively, there are certain areas in rural America where it feels like we are in the midst of a horrifying economic depression that never seems to end. Some elitists derisively refer to the rural areas between the east and west coasts as “flyover country”, and they have little sympathy for the struggles of rural Americans. But those struggles are very real, and in this article you will see that poverty and suicide rates are soaring in non-urban parts of the country.

A new study that was just released contains some hard data about the “income sorting” that is going on nationwide. According to CBS News, the study found that those that are moving into expensive cities make much more money than those that are leaving, and conversely those that are moving into poorer cities make much less than those that are leaving for greener pastures…

America’s wealthy households are increasingly moving to coastal cities on both sides of the country, but those with more modest incomes are either relocating to or being pushed into the nation’s Rust Belt, according to a new study.

That’s creating “income sorting” across the country, with expensive cities like Los Angeles, New York and Seattle drawing wealthier residents. For instance, Americans who move to San Francisco earn nearly $13,000 more than those who move away, the study found. Conversely, those who are moving into less expensive inland cities such as Detroit or Pittsburgh earn up to $5,000 less than those who are leaving.

One of the consequences of this phenomenon is that real estate prices are wildly different depending on where you live. As wealthy people have steadily migrated into expensive cities such as New York and San Francisco, this has pushed housing prices into the stratosphere

The trend may not only hurt poorer residents who are forced out, but also the rich Americans who move to coastal cities. Well-off residents who move to already expensive cities like San Francisco are bidding up real estate prices until property becomes unaffordable for all but the very richest families. Many end up renting — until that, too, becomes unaffordable.

The California real estate bubble has reached dizzying heights in recent years. Earlier today, I came across an article about a rancher in Marin County that has reluctantly decided to sell his ranch, and he seemed quite sad about it.

So what made him decide to pull the trigger?

Well, the ranch that he once paid $40,000 for is now worth a cool 5 million dollars

Mark Pasternak is a Marin County-based rancher who produces specialty meat products for local shoppers and some of the toniest restaurants in the Bay Area. He bought his 75-acre Devil’s Gulch Ranch in western Marin County back in 1971 for $550 an acre and has been raising pigs, sheep, rabbits and poultry ever since. The farm is a fixture in the local community, so it shocked many when Pasternak announced the ranch is for sale.

He said he’s selling because of the jump in value. The land around his has already been snapped up by wealthy people for private ranches with large homes. The property Pasternak paid less than $40,000 for is now worth about $5 million.

Meanwhile, things continue to go from bad to worse in many rural parts of the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly one out of every four children in rural America is living in poverty

According to estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly a quarter of children growing up in rural America were poor in 2016, compared to slightly more than 20 percent in urban areas.

It was a southwestern state, Arizona, according to the report, that had the highest rural child rate of any state, with 36 percent.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the report found the highest concentrations of child poverty, overall, in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia and on Native American reservations.

These days, most of the good jobs are concentrated in the major cities. Small businesses and family farms have traditionally been the lifeblood of rural communities, but our “modern economy” has not been kind to small businesses and family farms.

In rural America, times are tough, and that is one of the reasons why the suicide rate is much, much higher in rural areas than it is in the large cities. The following comes from CNN

The suicide rate in rural America is 45% greater than in large urban areas, according to a study released last fall by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A more recent CDC report said Montana’s suicide rate leads the nation, coming in at nearly twice the national average. A third long-touted CDC study, currently under review, listed farming in the occupational group, along with fishing and forestry, with the highest rate of suicide deaths.

That occupational study was based on 2012 data, when farming was strong and approaching its peak in 2013, says Jennifer Fahy, communications director for the nonprofit Farm Aid. Farmers’ net income has fallen 50% since 2013 and is expected to drop to a 12-year low this year, the US Department of Agriculture reports.

If things are this bad now, what will it be like when economic conditions really begin to deteriorate?

We live at a time when the gap between the wealthy and the poor is exploding, and this is putting a tremendous amount of strain on our society. At one time the wealthy lived in the “good parts” of our major cities and the poor lived in the “bad parts”, but now the poor are being completely forced out of our expensive cities on a massive scale.

It is most definitely a tale of two Americas, and I don’t think that it is going to have a happy ending.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog. About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Number Of Americans Living In Their Vehicles “Explodes” As The Middle Class Continues To Disappear

If the U.S. economy is really doing so well, then why is homelessness rising so rapidly? As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase, the middle class is steadily eroding. In fact, I recently gave my readers 15 signs that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed. More Americans are falling out of the middle class and into poverty with each passing day, and this is one of the big reasons why the number of homeless is surging. For example, the number of people living on the street in L.A. has shot up 75 percent over the last 6 years. But of course L.A. is far from alone. Other major cities on the west coast are facing similar problems, and that includes Seattle. It turns out that the Emerald City has seen a 46 percent rise in the number of people sleeping in their vehicles in just the past year

The number of people who live in their vehicles because they can’t find affordable housing is on the rise, even though the practice is illegal in many U.S. cities.

The number of people residing in campers and other vehicles surged 46 percent over the past year, a recent homeless census in Seattle’s King County, Washington found. The problem is “exploding” in cities with expensive housing markets, including Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco, according to Governing magazine.

Amazon, Microsoft and other big tech companies are in the Seattle area. It is a region that is supposedly “prospering”, and yet this is going on.

Sadly, it isn’t just major urban areas that are seeing more people sleeping in their vehicles. Over in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, many of the homeless sleep in their vehicles even in the middle of winter

Stephanie Monroe, managing director of Children Youth & Family Services at Volunteers of America, Dakotas, tells a similar story. At least 25 percent of the non-profit’s Sioux Falls clients have lived in their vehicles at some point, even during winter’s sub-freezing temperatures.

“Many of our communities don’t have formal shelter services,” she said in an interview. “It can lead to individuals resorting to living in their cars or other vehicles.”

It is time to admit that we have a problem. The number of homeless in this country is surging, and we need to start coming up with some better solutions.

But instead, many communities are simply passing laws that make it illegal for people to sleep in their vehicles…

A recent survey by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), which tracks policies in 187 cities, found the number of prohibitions against vehicle residency has more than doubled during the last decade.

Those laws aren’t going to solve anything.

At best, they will just encourage some of the homeless to go somewhere else.

And if our homelessness crisis is escalating this dramatically while the economy is supposedly “growing”, how bad are things going to be once the next recession officially begins?

We live at a time when the cost of living is soaring but our paychecks are not. As a result, middle class families are being squeezed like never before.

A recent Marketwatch article highlighted the plight of California history teacher Matt Barry and his wife Nicole…

Barry’s wife, Nicole, teaches as well — they each earn $69,000, a combined salary that not long ago was enough to afford a comfortable family life. But due to the astronomical costs in his area, including real estate — a 1,500-square-foot “starter home” costs $680,000 — driving for Uber was a necessity.

“Teachers are killing themselves,” Barry says in Alissa Quart’s new book, “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America” (Ecco), out Tuesday. “I shouldn’t be having to drive Uber at eight o’clock at night on a weekday. I just shut down from the mental toll: grading papers between rides, thinking of what I could be doing instead of driving — like creating a curriculum.”

Home prices are completely out of control, but that bubble should soon burst.

However, other elements of our cost of living are only going to become even more painful. Health care costs rise much faster than the rate of inflation every year, food prices are becoming incredibly ridiculous, and the cost of a college education is off the charts. According to author Alissa Quart, living a middle class life is “30% more expensive” than it was two decades ago…

“Middle-class life is now 30% more expensive than it was 20 years ago,” Quart writes, citing the costs of housing, education, health care and child care in particular. “In some cases the cost of daily life over the last 20 years has doubled.”

And thanks to the trade war, prices are going to start going up more rapidly than we have seen in a very long time.

On Tuesday, we learned that diaper and toilet paper prices are rising again

Procter & Gamble said on Tuesday that it was in the process of raising Pampers’ prices in North America by 4%. P&G also began notifying retailers this week that it would increase the average prices of Bounty, Charmin, and Puffs by 5%.

P&G is raising prices because commodity and transportation cost pressures are intensifying. The hikes to Bounty and Charmin will go into effect in late October, and Puffs will become more expensive beginning early next year.

I wish that I had better news for you, but I don’t. We are all going to have to work harder, smarter and more efficiently. And we are definitely going to have to tighten our belts.

Many middle class families are relying on debt to get them from month to month, and consumer debt in the United States has surged to an all-time high. But eventually a day of reckoning comes, and we all understand that.

The U.S. economy is not going to be getting any better than it is right now. So it is time to be a lean, mean saving machine, because it will be important to have a financial cushion for the hard times that are ahead of us.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Gap Between The Rich And The Poor In The United States Hasn’t Been This Large Since The 1920s

The rich have been getting richer and the poor have been getting poorer for so long in America that it seems like it has always been this way.  But it hasn’t.  In fact, between the late 1920s and the early 1970s the gap between the wealthy and the poor actually steadily got smaller.  And when I was growing up in the 1980s, it seemed like everyone was middle class, but now those days are long gone.  A very small sliver of society at the very top of the food chain truly is “living the high life”, while most of the rest of us are deeply struggling.  According to a brand new study just released by the Economic Policy Institute, the average American family in the top 1 percent brought home 26.3 times as much income in 2015 as an average family in the bottom 99 percent.  The following comes from CNBC

The top 1 percent of families took home an average of 26.3 times as much income as the bottom 99 percent in 2015, according to a new paper released by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit, nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. This has increased since 2013, showing that income inequality has risen in nearly every state.

To be in the top 1 percent of all income earners nationwide, you would have had to have earned at least $421,926 in 2015.

But in wealthy enclaves such as California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York the threshold for being a part of the top 1 percent is much higher.

The last time America faced such disparity was just before the Great Depression.  Back in 1928, the top 1 percent of all Americans brought home 23.9 percent of all income, and today we are sitting at about 22 percent.  The following comes from CBS News

Unequal income growth since the 1970s has buoyed the fortunes of the top 1 percent of income earners, widening income inequality in every state, the study from the Economic Policy Institute found. Across the country, the top-earning households took home 22 percent of all income in 2015, the latest year for which the IRS has data. That’s just 1.9 percentage points lower than 1928’s record share of 23.9 percent of income.

A big reason why the wealthy have been prospering is because the Federal Reserve recklessly inflated stock prices during the Obama administration.  Everyone knew that the Fed’s quantitative easing program greatly benefited a very, very small segment of society, but they just kept on doing it anyway.

Many of the wealthy live near Wall Street, and that is why the top 1 percent in New York and Connecticut are doing so exceptionally well.  But others in the top 1 percent do not even have to work, and therefore they are free to live wherever they want.  So that is a big reason why low tax states such as Florida, Nevada and Wyoming have attracted so many of them

But that 1928 peak has been surpassed in New York, Florida, Connecticut, Nevada and Wyoming, EPI said. Metropolitan regions that have leapfrogged over the 1928 record include Jackson, Wyoming — home to the resort town of Jackson Hole — and Naples, Florida, a popular retirement location.

At this point, we truly have entered another “gilded age”.  Those that are able to live off of accumulated wealth live a completely different kind of a lifestyle than you or I do.  And they tend to concentrate in resort areas in low tax states.  Here is more from CBS News

In 1928, the country was enjoying a booming stock market, boosting the wealth of families like the Rockefellers and Mellons to unheard-of levels. They vacationed in resorts like Newport, Rhode Island, leaving the cities for havens of wealth far removed from the centers of industry.

Today, the richest Americans are likewise capable of picking up and moving to resorts and vacation spots, which explains the presence of Jackson, Wyoming, as one of the top spots for income inequality. Jackson Hole is home to a famed ski resort, as well as extremely wealthy patrons like Walmart heiress Christy Walton.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of other Americans are deeply, deeply struggling.  The middle class in America is steadily shrinking, and more people are being forced into poverty with each passing day.

Yesterday, I wrote about how the head of the police union in Portland is lamenting how his city is becoming a “cesspool”, and today I would like to share with you what is taking place on one extremely impoverished street in Detroit

Alpine is squatter central. Once filled with families and children, it’s a tattered neighborhood of small houses, many deserted, and vacant lots. There’s hoarding and heartbreak on Alpine.

Twins Ordell and Wardell Belt share their house on Alpine with Scandalous, the lab-pit bull they adopted when they found him wandering the street. They said they have no central heat, no water. Both get federal disability checks.

We hear so much about how the economy is “getting better” these days, but the truth is that it is mostly just getting better for the top 1 percent.

We desperately need to restore economic hope for all the rest of us.  Our people need to feel empowered to be entrepreneurs, to start businesses, to hire people and to live the American Dream.

Unfortunately, big government continues to kill the American Dream with red tape, high taxes and ridiculous regulations as we continue to march down the road toward socialism.

Socialism always concentrates wealth among the elite, and if America continues to head this direction we will continue to get the same results.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos And Warren Buffett Have More Money Than The Poorest 50% Of The U.S. Population Combined

The problem is not that we have a few people that are rich – the problem is that we have so many that are poor. As you will see below, three extremely wealthy individuals have as much money as the poorest half of the nation combined. In a free market capitalist society, there are always going to be some that do better than others, and there is nothing wrong with that. But in our society today, there are so few that are doing well. At this point a majority of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and “one in five households have zero or negative net worth”

In the United States, the 400 richest individuals now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population and the three richest own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, while pervasive poverty means one in five households have zero or negative net worth.

Those are just several of the striking findings of Billionaire Bonanza 2017, a new report (pdf) published Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) that explores in detail the speed with which the U.S. is becoming “a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power.”

That means that if you have no debt and a single dime in your pockets, you have more wealth than one-fifth of the entire country.

Okay, so let’s talk about the three men that have more wealth than the poorest 50 percent of the U.S. population combined. Those three men are Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, and Warren Buffett. I don’t want to take anything away from what those three have accomplished, because we need more risk takers and entrepreneurs.

Sadly, the level of small business creation has fallen in every presidential administration going all the way back to George H.W. Bush, and the percentage of Americans that are self-employed is hovering near all-time record lows.

As a nation, we desperately need to return to a culture that encourages free market capitalist thinking. We want young men and women to create, invent, innovate and start new ventures. But instead, today our culture encourages young people to become dependent on the government and on the big corporations, and as a result the middle class is evaporating.

As I discussed above, at this point 20 percent of all U.S. households have “either zero or negative wealth”

The rise at the wealthiest end of society comes as one in five US households live in what the report’s authors call the “underwater nation”, with either zero or negative wealth. Inequality is even more stark among minorities. Three in 10 black households and 27% of Latino ones have zero or negative wealth, compared with 14% of white families.

In recent years, unprecedented intervention by global central banks has created an absolutely enormous stock market bubble, but the real economy has continued to struggle.

Just look at what is happening to Sears. This week they announced that they lost between $525 million and $595 million during the 3rd quarter of 2017.

How in the world do you do that?

If they had their employees doing nothing all day but flushing one dollar bills down the toilet, I still don’t think that they could lose that much money in three months.

Sears is going to sell 140 stores in a desperate attempt to stay afloat, but many believe that this is simply delaying the inevitable. In fact, one prominent analyst named Bill Dreher believes that Sears will never be profitable again

One Wall Street analyst is beginning to doubt whether Sears Holdings will ever be profitable again, as the 124-year-old retailer struggles for liquidity and same-store sales evaporate.

“Sears’ operational performance is clearly NOT improving, and we grow increasingly concerned whether the company will ever return to profitability,” wrote Susquehanna analyst Bill Dreher in a note to clients Wednesday. “Further highlighting the company’s weakened position is the reality that manufacturers are increasingly demanding tighter payment and/or withholding products.”

Once upon a time, Sears was the number one shopping destination for the middle class.

But like the middle class in America, the best days for Sears are now long gone.

If we want to restore our economy to greatness, we need a vibrant middle class.

And in order to have a vibrant middle class, we need to have a system that encourages entrepreneurs and small businesses. Free markets work if you allow them to, but unfortunately today we are strangling our entrepreneurs and small businesses with rules, regulations, red tape and oppressive levels of taxation, and until we change our ways we are going to continue to get the same very poor results.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

When I Found Out How Members Of Congress Really Spend Their Time, I Just About Threw Up

Did you know that many members of Congress spend three or four hours a day “dialing for dollars” in cramped call centers that both parties have set up in Washington?  I promised that I would keep all of you updated on what I am learning as I run for Congress, and what I learned the other day just about had me losing my lunch.  I always imagined members of Congress spending long hours in their offices working on legislation and other important matters, but the truth is that most members of Congress are little more than glorified telemarketers at this point.  Winning the next election is everything for most of these Congress critters, and so they spend far more time making cold calls to potential donors than doing anything else.

Have you ever had a politician call you up in the middle of the day begging for money?  It is an absolutely disgraceful thing to do, but the truth is that money is the number one factor in determining election outcomes, and so our professional politicians have an endless appetite for it.

Every two years, more than a billion dollars is spent on congressional elections, and those that are masters at raising money just keep winning over and over again.  Something desperately needs to be done to fix our fundamentally flawed system, but neither party seems to have any desire to take the money out of politics.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives will only be in session for 147 days this year.  But even on those days, members of Congress are not exactly spending much time doing what they were elected to do.

During an interview with 60 Minutes, U.S. Representative Rick Nolan told Norah O’Donnell that members of Congress are expected to spend about 30 hours a week “dialing for dollars” in their respective call centers…

Rep. Rick Nolan: Well, both parties have told newly elected members of the Congress that they should spend 30 hours a week in the Republican and Democratic call centers across the street from the Congress, dialing for dollars.

Norah O’Donnell: Thirty hours a week?

Rep. Rick Nolan: Thirty hours is what they tell you you should spend. And it’s discouraging good people from running for public office. I could give you names of people who’ve said, “You know, I’d like to go to Washington and help fix problems, but I don’t want to go to Washington and become a mid-level telemarketer, dialing for dollars, for crying out loud.”

This is utterly shameful, and if I end up getting elected I will never do it.  In fact, I will push legislation to ban this practice.

Former U.S. Representative David Jolly was also interviewed by O’Donnell, and he admitted to her that Republican members of Congress are actually given a telemarketing script to use while making these calls…

Simply by calling people, cold-calling a list that fundraisers put in front of you, you’re presented with their biography. So please call John. He’s married to Sally. His daughter, Emma, just graduated from high school. They gave $18,000 last year to different candidates. They can give you $1,000 too if you ask them to. And they put you on the phone. And it’s a script.

In 2013, new Democratic members of Congress were given a “model schedule” for how they should be spending their time.  On that model schedule, two hours a day were allocated for “committee/floor”, and four hours a day were allocated for “call time”.  In other words, those members of Congress were expected to only devote two hours a day to doing the jobs they were elected to do and four hours a day to making telemarketing calls.

If we ever want to end this disgraceful system we need to take matters into our own hands.

Shortly after I announced that I was running for Congress, I was given a list of thousands of names in my district.  It is the same list that other politicians are getting too.  Even at this moment, people are having their dinners interrupted by desperate politicians that are “dialing for dollars”.

If this ever happens to you, write the name of that politician down and never vote for that individual again.

I have pledged not to participate in this shameful system, and if I get the chance I will work to abolish it.  Yes, every campaign needs funding, but making telemarketing cold calls to people at home is not the way to do it.

In fact, these politicians are actually trained to interrupt you during lunch and dinner because those are apparently some of the best times for raising money.

And these call centers in D.C. are as bad as you are probably imagining.  The following is more from former Representative David Jolly

It is a cult-like boiler room on Capitol Hill where sitting members of Congress, frankly I believe, are compromising the dignity of the office they hold by sitting in these sweatshop phone booths calling people asking them for money. And their only goal is to get $500 or $1,000 or $2,000 out of the person on the other end of the line. It’s shameful. It’s beneath the dignity of the office that our voters in our communities entrust us to serve.

Jolly is precisely correct.

Any politician that makes these sorts of calls is acting in a completely shameful manner.

If we don’t get the money out of politics, we are just going to end up with a bunch of sleazebags in Washington that spend most of their time on the phone bugging people for money.

Is that what we want?

Do we really want our laws to be made by those that can prove that they are the best telemarketers?

Nobody is supposed to talk about these things, and I suppose that this is yet another article that is going to get me into trouble.

But I don’t care.  Our system is deeply broken and it needs to be fixed.  Hopefully by shedding some light on these issues I have moved the ball in the right direction.

One Of The Main Reasons Congress Is Getting So Little Done Is Because They Will Have 218 Days Off In 2017

Would you like to have a job that gave you 218 days off a year?  According to the official calendar put out by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the House of Representatives will only be in session for 147 days in 2017.  And that is actually an increase from last year.  In 2016, there were only 131 legislative days for the House.  So if you are wondering why Congress never seems to get anything done, this is one of the biggest reasons.  The sad truth is that members of Congress simply do not spend a lot of time doing what they were elected to do.

If you are an average American worker with a full-time job, you probably put in around 240 working days a year.  If you have to work that hard, why can’t Congress?

And actually things used to be even worse.  The New York Times looked back at 2013 once it was done, and they found that the House was only in session for 942 hours for the entire year.  When you break that down, it comes to about 18 hours a week.

If you go all the way back to 2006, there were just 104 legislative days in the House.  It is almost as if they just decided to take pretty much that whole year off.

This is what I am talking about when I say that we need to “flush the toilet”.  Those that are fortunate enough to be chosen to represent us in Washington should be some of the hardest working people in the entire country, and unfortunately we are getting just the exact opposite.

In the past there have been efforts to make members of Congress work full work weeks, but those efforts have always ended up failing

Some attempts have been made to force members of Congress to work full weeks. In 2015, for example, a Republican lawmaker from Florida, Rep. David Jolly, introduced legislation that would have required the House to be in session 40 hours a week when members of the House were in Washington, D.C.”A work week in Washington should be no different than a work week in every other town across the nation,” Jolly said at the time. Jolly’s measure failed to gain traction.

Congress gets especially lazy during the summer months.  Many Americans don’t realize that every year Congress takes the entire month of August off.  And actually, the House will be on vacation from July 29th all the way to September 4th in 2017.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had the entire month of August off every year?

This year, U.S. Senator David Perdue is proposing that the August vacation be canceled because there is so much for Congress to do.  According to Senator Perdue, there are five major tasks that need to be accomplished by September 30th

First, we have to complete the work on the first phase of repealing Obamacare and fixing our health care system.

Second, we have to pass a budget resolution that will work within the reconciliation process for changing the tax code.

Third, we have to use the appropriations process to fund the federal government by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Fourth, we have to deal with our debt limit. The Treasury Department has used extraordinary measures to buy time since the national debt hit its limit of $19.8 trillion in March.

Fifth, we have to finally act on our once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our archaic tax code, but we will only be able to do so if we achieve the first four priorities.

If those things don’t get done in time, members of Congress should not expect the voting public to have any sympathy for them.

Of course there are many that would argue that members of Congress actually work very hard and that they need all of that time off to “serve their constituents”.  The following comes from Snopes

Members of Congress have two jobs: represent their constituents and govern. These responsibilities do not always go hand in hand. Representing constituents means speaking with them in person, holding town hall meetings, organizing rallies, attending to casework, and otherwise being present in the district or state they represent. This is not easily done from a Washington office. Supporting or opposing legislation is an important part of a member’s’ job. However, it does not come close to capturing members’’ range of responsibilities. This is why even when Congress is out of session, members are at work. Most members of Congress work a five-to-six-day week. The representative aspect of Congress’’s job is almost completely ignored in these statistics.

Yes, without a doubt it is important for members of Congress to go back and interact with those that elected them.

But at the end of the day their main job is to do the work that they were elected to do.

And even when they are in Washington, many of these Congress critters are spending much of their time on activities that have nothing to do with legislation.  For example, in his new book entitled “Giant Of The Senate”, Senator Al Franken admits that he often spends much of his day on the phone raising money…

“It’s not uncommon to have three straight hours of call time scheduled as part of your day. … It’s brutal.”

This is why we need federal term limits.  If members of Congress were not so busy constantly raising money for their next elections maybe they would have time to actually get something done in Washington.

In November the American people gave the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Enormous amounts of time, money and energy went into those campaigns, and now we want to see some results.

Instead of flying off for a month-long vacation in August, Congress should stay in town and get to work.  The Republicans have already wasted much of the first half of 2017, and the mid-term elections are right around the corner.

It is time to change the way that Washington works, because right now we have a system that is deeply broken.

John McCain’s Incoherent Questioning Of James Comey Shows Why We Need Term Limits

Does America really need a permanent ruling class of career politicians?  According to Real Clear Politics, right now Congress has an average approval rating of just 18.8 percent.  It is an institution that is dominated by politicians that are able to keep winning elections over and over again because they are extremely good at raising money.  And our permanent ruling class of politicians has learned that it greatly pays to pander to the special interests and the wealthy donors that are able to inject large amounts of cash into their campaigns.  This incestuous system produces many incumbents that are almost unbeatable, and the result is that some of these Congress critters end up staying in Washington much, much longer than they should.

On Thursday, we witnessed a perfect example of this.  Senator John McCain’s incoherent questioning of James Comey got so much attention on social media that USA Today did a whole story about it

The Arizona Republican spent most of his allotted time for questioning Comey to ask about the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. But his questioning wasn’t exactly coming out in the most coherent manner.

“So she was clearly involved in this whole situation where, fake news — as you just described it, is a big deal — took place,” McCain said, referring to Clinton. “You’re going to have to help me out here. In other words, we’re complete, the investigation of anything former Secretary Clinton had to do with the campaign is over, and we don’t have to worry about it anymore?”

Comey replied, “I’m a little confused, senator.”

I would have been confused too.

No matter what you may think of McCain, it is clear that his ability to think clearly has gone way downhill.  In the aftermath of the hearing, McCain released a statement in which he blamed his incoherence on staying up late to watch baseball games…

“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads. Maybe going forward, I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”

Of course there are many Democrats that are in the exact same boat.  For some reason, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has a really hard time remembering Donald Trump’s name

For at least the third time, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi referred to the current president as George W. Bush.

Talking about her battles with Republicans over abortion, Pelosi said, “For decades I’ve served in Congress and for decades I’ve had to fight the Republicans’ opposition to birth control, contraception and family planning.

“They do not believe in it,” Pelosi declared at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. “And a lot of those people voted for George— for, what’s his name?” she asked, apparently struggling to remember President Trump’s name.

And just recently, Pelosi could barely get through a 7 minute speech to Refugees International

She botched country names as she read them from her notes.

“With the specter of famine looming in, over northeast Nigeria, Somalia, south “Sudon,” and “Yuma — Yamen,” she said, flubbing “Yemen.”

Pelosi asserted cutting the foreign aid budget would “only deepen the crisis fighting — facing the children.”

“Children, America, children need America to be their champion,” she said moments later.

Pelosi thanked Refugees International for “channeling — challenging us to honor our values.”

Just over 7 minutes after she started, Pelosi thanked the group for the invitation, stood and stared awkwardly, then made her way off the stage.

We end up with politicians like this because the system makes it nearly impossible to conduct successful primary challenges against incumbents.  And once the general election comes, most areas of the country lean so far in one direction or the other that the candidate from the other party doesn’t stand a chance.

And to ensure that their “political careers” keep going, most members of Congress never stop raising money for their next campaigns.  In his new book entitled “Giant Of The Senate”, Senator Al Franken admits that he often spends several hours a day on the phone raising money…

“It’s not uncommon to have three straight hours of call time scheduled as part of your day. … It’s brutal.”

This is why I am proposing that we limit all members of the House and all members of the Senate to just one term.  If there were no re-election campaigns to raise money for, perhaps they could spend their time doing the jobs that we elected them to do in the first place.

This would be one of the fastest ways that we could clean up Washington.  Special interests and big donors would lose their ability to legally bribe members of Congress by donating to their next campaigns.  And instead of a permanent ruling class of career politicians, we could return to the days of actually having citizen representatives.

But of course convincing members of Congress to willingly limit their own political careers is not going to be easy.  Just getting any sort of term limits passed would be a great victory, but my long-term dream is to limit all members of Congress to just one term.

So other than members of Congress, who else would be against term limits?

Well, perhaps unsurprisingly I did find one article in the Washington Post that was against the idea…

Here’s a plan that is sure to improve the quality of your local hospital: Fire all the doctors and nurses with nine to 12 years of experience. Just kick them all out. Or why don’t we fire every Apple software engineer who has been at the company that long? That’ll surely yield better iPhones. Or fire every Post reporter with a decade under his or her belt.

No? Sound crazy? I agree. Those are terrible ideas.

If Congress was doing a good job, there may be some merit to that argument.

But at this point the American people are so universally dissatisfied with Congress that it is clear that something must be done.

So we should definitely encourage those that love liberty and freedom to challenge corrupt career politicians all over America in 2018, but we should also push very hard for term limits on every level of government.

It won’t be easy to get them, but just about anything that is worth doing in life is going to take some hard work.

Now It Is The Elite That Are Feverishly ‘Prepping’ For The Collapse Of Society

Once upon a time, “prepping” was something that was considered to be on “the lunatic fringe” of society.  But in 2017, wealthy elitists are actually the most hardcore preppers of all.  This is particularly true in places such as Silicon Valley, where a whole host of young tech moguls are putting a tremendous amount of time, effort and money into preparing for apocalyptic scenarios.  So while interest in prepping among the general population has fallen extremely low right now, the election of Donald Trump has given liberal wealthy elitists even more urgency to prepare for what they believe is a very uncertain future.

In the January 30th, 2017 edition of the New Yorker, reporter Evan Osnos has done an extraordinary job of profiling these wealthy elitists that are “getting ready for the crackup of civilization”.  One of the people that he interviewed was Steve Huffman, the young co-founder and CEO of Reddit…

Huffman, who lives in San Francisco, has large blue eyes, thick, sandy hair, and an air of restless curiosity; at the University of Virginia, he was a competitive ballroom dancer, who hacked his roommate’s Web site as a prank. He is less focussed on a specific threat—a quake on the San Andreas, a pandemic, a dirty bomb—than he is on the aftermath, “the temporary collapse of our government and structures,” as he puts it. “I own a couple of motorcycles. I have a bunch of guns and ammo. Food. I figure that, with that, I can hole up in my house for some amount of time.”

According to the article, Huffman estimates that “fifty-plus percent” of his elite friends in Silicon Valley have some form of “apocalypse insurance”.  Needless to say, that number would be far higher than for the general population as a whole.

Another tech mogul that was interviewed by Osnos for the story was former Facebook product manager Antonio García Martínez

Last spring, as the Presidential campaign exposed increasingly toxic divisions in America, Antonio García Martínez, a forty-year-old former Facebook product manager living in San Francisco, bought five wooded acres on an island in the Pacific Northwest and brought in generators, solar panels, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. “When society loses a healthy founding myth, it descends into chaos,” he told me. The author of “Chaos Monkeys,” an acerbic Silicon Valley memoir, García Martínez wanted a refuge that would be far from cities but not entirely isolated. “All these dudes think that one guy alone could somehow withstand the roving mob,” he said. “No, you’re going to need to form a local militia. You just need so many things to actually ride out the apocalypse.” Once he started telling peers in the Bay Area about his “little island project,” they came “out of the woodwork” to describe their own preparations, he said. “I think people who are particularly attuned to the levers by which society actually works understand that we are skating on really thin cultural ice right now.”

As you can see, a lot of these liberal elitists are actually secretly stashing away lots of guns and ammunition.

So don’t believe everything that you read about them being “anti-gun”.

Other big names in Silicon Valley have decided that having a property on the other side of the planet is the best form of “apocalypse insurance”.  The following comes from a story about Paypal founder Peter Thiel in the New York Times

Mr. Thiel’s admiration for New Zealand is longstanding. “Utopia,” he once called it. He has an investment firm in the country that has put millions into local start-ups. He also owns lavish properties there, which his Silicon Valley friends hope to fly to in the event of a worldwide pandemic.

And of course Thiel is far from alone.  So many wealthy individuals are buying up property in New Zealand these days that it is actually becoming a significant political issue over there.  In fact, it is being reported that foreigners purchased an astounding 3500 square kilometers during the first ten months of 2016…

Statistics showed foreigners had bought over 3500 square kilometers of New Zealand in the first ten months of 2016, which is over four times as much as they did in the same period in 2010.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman told The New Yorker that New Zealand had become the hot topic among Silicon Valley leaders lately.

“Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.”

Hoffman estimated that over half of the Silicon Valley insiders were into preparedness – especially since anti-elite sentiment has risen around the globe in recent years. It was intensified by events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, he added.

So are these wealthy elitists ahead of the curve, or are they just being paranoid?

Only time will tell, but they didn’t become exceedingly wealthy in the first place by being stupid.

As I discussed yesterday on The Most Important News, there are certainly reasons to be optimistic now that Donald Trump has become president, but there are also lots of reasons to be prepping harder than ever.

We should be hopeful for the future and working for a better tomorrow, but we also need to understand that we live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable.

And most of us think that it is just common sense to purchase insurance for our homes, our cars, our health, our lives and so many other things, and yet most of the population is completely unprepared for a major catastrophic event.

It is a good thing to have balance in life.  My wife and I are very proud preppers, and there won’t ever be a time when we aren’t prepping.

But we also live our lives without any fear.  We know that the world is going to get crazier and crazier, but we do not believe that it is a time to dig a hole and try to hide from the world.

Rather, now is a time to rise up and become the people that we were created to be.

This year my wife and I are going to be taking on some new adventures, and these new adventures are going to give us a bigger voice than ever before.

Someone once told me that life is like a coin.  You can spend it any way that you want, but you can only spend it once.

We don’t want to spend our lives paying bills and killing time.

Instead, we want to do all that we can to make a difference and to change the world.

So unlike these wealthy elitists, let us not be in fear of what is coming.  There is no other time in history that I would have rather lived than right here and right now, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Homeless For The Holidays

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Could you imagine spending the holidays in a homeless shelter, in a tent city surrounded by drug addicts and prostitutes, or in a sleeping bag on the cold, hard streets of an urban jungle? Unfortunately, that is what real life looks like for an increasing number of Americans. Most of the time when we think of “homeless people”, the image that comes into our minds is one of a grizzled old man asking for some spare change, but the truth is that vast numbers of women and children in our country do not have anywhere to live. In fact, Poverty USA has reported that last year a grand total 1.6 million U.S. children stayed either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing. And you never hear the mainstream media report this number, but the truth is that the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by 60 percent since the “end” of the last recession. For the moment the wealthy are getting wealthier, but meanwhile things have just continued to get harder and harder for those that are struggling to survive in this economy.

In Wal-Mart parking lots and campgrounds all over America tonight, you will find formerly middle class families that are living in cars, trucks and recreational vehicles during this holiday season. Most of them will never complain and will try to put on a happy face outwardly, but inside the worry and fear are eating them alive.

As the weather gets cold, many homeless Americans head for warmer climates, and this is one of the factors that is fueling the unprecedented homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The following comes from L.A. Weekly

By nearly every metric, Los Angeles has the worst homelessness crisis of any city in America. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are more people suffering from chronic homelessness in L.A. than anywhere in the country, and their number is growing at a faster clip than those in New York City.

One homeless man in Los Angeles has decided to do what he can to make the best of his circumstances. He has transformed a depressingly bleak area underneath a freeway underpass into his own “personal paradise”

A homeless man who turned a freeway underpass into his personal paradise by furnishing it with a make-shift jacuzzi and four-poster bed has become a viral hit and unlikely tourist attraction.

Ceola Waddell Jr, 59, began living in the underpass in L.A.’s 110 freeway near Coliseum six months ago.

He has since foraged two porcelain toilets, discarded refrigerators, couches and two beds to transform the space into his personal refuge.

You can’t help but smile when you read what Mr. Waddell has done, but the truth is that the homelessness crisis in the state is rapidly getting way out of control. In fact, Los Angeles is swamped by so many homeless people at this point that the L.A. City Council has asked California Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.

On the east coast things are getting really, really bad as well.

You may find this hard to believe, but the number of homeless people in New York City has never been higher

The number of homeless people living in New York City has reached a record-high.

The Department of Homeless Services reported there were 60,252, up 200 in two weeks.

Now, some are saying the city’s current plan to combat homelessness isn’t working.

So why is this happening?

The stock market is at an all-time high and the mainstream media keeps telling us that things are getting better, and yet poverty just continues to rise.

Other than the very wealthy, the truth is that things are not getting any better for virtually everyone else. In fact, it has been reported that over half of all New Yorkers “are teetering on the brink of homelessness”…

More than half of all New Yorkers are teetering on the brink of homelessness — without enough cash in the bank to cover them in the event of a disaster or lost job, a troubling new study has found.

Nearly 60 percent of all New Yorkers don’t have enough emergency savings to cover at least three months’ worth of household expenses like food, housing and rent, according to a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development.

This is one of the reasons why I am always encouraging my readers to build up their emergency funds. Sadly, the cold, hard reality of the matter is that most of the country is only a couple of paychecks away from losing everything.

To give you an idea of how deep the suffering can be this time of the year for those that have already lost it all, I want to share with you a story of a precious little dog named Ollie

When Ollie was found, his fur was matted and so long you couldn’t see his adorable little eyes. He was clearly in need of dire help.

A woman and her sister saw Ollie outside her apartment, shivering in the freezing cold. They brought him in and quickly called the Michigan Humane Society to help take care of the dog.

Once Ollie was brought in, it was discovered just how sick he is. Had he not been rescued, he would have suffered a very painful death alone in the streets.

Very few people could come across a hurting dog like Ollie without helping him out, but what about the countless numbers of our fellow Americans that no longer have a warm home and will spend the night shivering in the cold?

Look, the truth is that you don’t have to have a whole lot of resources in order to make a difference. In Tennessee, there is a group of elderly women that refer to themselves as “the bag ladies” that are turning old plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless

It all starts with cutting plastic bags into strips, tying those strips together, and rolling them into a ball.

The Bag Ladies call it “plarn,” instead of yarn. They then crochet the “plarn” into mats.

It takes 600 bags to make an 18 square foot mat. So far, this year, they have used 52,000 bags to make 88 mats.

“This is not young ladies doing this. This is older ladies with the arthritis,” said Akin.

How marvelous is that?

A single act of kindness can make a world of difference.

In the months ahead, temperatures are only going to get colder and economic conditions are only going to get tougher for those that are already living in poverty.

I would encourage all of us to think about what we can do to make a difference for those that are deeply hurting this 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.

Half Of The Population Of The World Is Dirt Poor – And The Global Elite Want To Keep It That Way

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Could you survive on just $2.50 a day? According to Compassion International, approximately half of the population of the entire planet currently lives on $2.50 a day or less. Meanwhile, those hoarding wealth at the very top of the global pyramid are rapidly becoming a lot wealthier. Don’t get me wrong – I am a very big believer in working hard and contributing something of value to society, and those that work the hardest and contribute the most should be able to reap the rewards. In this article I am in no way, shape or form criticizing true capitalism, because if true capitalism were actually being practiced all over the planet we would have far, far less poverty today. Instead, our planet is dominated by a heavily socialized debt-based central banking system that systematically transfers wealth from hard working ordinary citizens to the global elite. Those at the very top of the pyramid know that they are impoverishing everyone else, and they very much intend to keep it that way.

Let’s start with some of the hard numbers. According to Zero Hedge, Credit Suisse had just released their yearly report on global wealth, and it shows that 45.6 percent of all the wealth in the world is controlled by just 0.7 percent of the people…

As Credit Suisse tantalizingly shows year after year, the number of people who control just shy of a majority of global net worth, or 45.6% of the roughly $255 trillion in household wealth, is declining progressively relative to the total population of the world, and in 2016 the number of people who are worth more than $1 million was just 33 million, roughly 0.7% of the world’s population of adults. On the other end of the pyramid, some 3.5 billion adults had a net worth of less than $10,000, accounting for just about $6 trillion in household wealth.

And since this is a yearly report, we can go back and see how things have changed over time. When Zero Hedge did this, it was discovered that the wealth of those at the very top “has nearly doubled” over the past six years, and meanwhile the poor have gotten even poorer…

Incidentally, we tracked down the first Credit Suisse report we found in this series from 2010, where the total wealth of the top “layer” in the pyramid was a modest $69.2 trillion for the world’s millionaires. It has nearly doubled in the 6 years since then. Meanwhile, the world’s poorest have gotten, you got it, poorer, as those adults who were worth less than $10,000 in 2010 had a combined net worth of $8.2 trillion, a number which has since declined to $6.1 trillion in 2016 despite a half a billion increase in the sample size.

If these trends continue at this pace, it won’t be too long before the global elite have virtually all of the wealth and the rest of us have virtually nothing.

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to still have a good job, and you live in a large home and you will sleep in a warm bed tonight.

Well, you should consider yourself to be very blessed, because that is definitely not the case for most of the rest of the world. The following 11 facts about global poverty come from dosomething.com, and I want you to really let these numbers sink in for a moment…

  1. Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.
  2. 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
  3. 805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. Food banks are especially important in providing food for people that can’t afford it themselves. Run a food drive outside your local grocery store so people in your community have enough to eat. Sign up for Supermarket Stakeout.
  4. More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day.
  5. In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
  6. Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.
  7. As of 2013, 21.8 million children under 1 year of age worldwide had not received the three recommended doses of vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
  8. 1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.
  9. 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.
  10. Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.
  11. The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

So how did we get here?

Debt is the primary mechanism that takes wealth from ordinary people like you and me and puts it into the hands of the global elite.

In my recent article entitled “Why Donald Trump Must Shut Down The Federal Reserve And Start Issuing Debt-Free Money“, I discussed how the Federal Reserve was designed to entrap the U.S. government in an endless debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape. And that is precisely what has happened, as the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913.

In that very same year, the federal income tax was instituted, and that is a key part of the program for the global elite. You see, the income tax is how wealth is transferred from us to the government. And then a continuously growing national debt is how that wealth is transferred from the government to the elite.

It is a very complicated system, but at the end of the day it is all about taking money from us and getting it into their pockets.

And at this point more than 99.9 percent of the population of the world lives in a country with a central bank, and almost every nation on the planet has some form of income tax.

It is a global system that is designed to create as much debt as possible, and I recently shared with my readers that the total amount of debt in the world has hit a staggering all-time record high of 152 trillion dollars.

Interestingly, the Bible actually foretells of a time when rich men would hoard wealth in the last days. The following are the first five verses of the Book of James in the Modern English Version

Come now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasures for the last days. 4 Indeed the wages that you kept back by fraud from the laborers who harvested your fields are crying, and the cries of those who harvested have entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. 5 You have lived in pleasure on the earth and have been wayward. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

So much of the time we focus on the other great sins that we see all around us, but the truth is that one of the greatest sins of all in our world today is the sin of greed.

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the global elite have used various forms of debt to turn the rest of the planet into their debt slaves.

As debt levels race higher and higher all over the planet, the elite are using the magic of compound interest to grab a bigger and bigger share of the pie.

Given enough time, those at the very top would have virtually everything and the rest of us would have virtually nothing. The middle class is shrinking all over the globe, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow at an astounding pace.

But the vast majority of people out there have no idea how money, debt, taxes and central banks really work, and so they have no idea that this is purposely being done to them.

So please share this article with as many people as you can. The truth is that we don’t have to have this much global poverty, and if we correctly identify the root causes of this poverty we can start working on some real solutions.

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.

More Jobs Shipped Out Of The Country: Ford Moves All Small Car Production To Mexico

ford-assembly-line-photo-by-gilly-berlin

What is going to happen when America finally doesn’t have any manufacturing jobs left at all? On Wednesday, we learned that Ford Motor Company is shifting all small car production to Mexico. Of course the primary goal for this move is to save a little bit of money. This hits me personally, because my grandfather once worked for Ford. He was loyal to Ford all his life, and he always criticized other members of the family when they bought a vehicle that was not American-made. When I was young I didn’t understand why making vehicles in America is so important, but I sure do now. By shipping jobs overseas, we are destroying jobs, we are destroying small businesses and we are destroying our tax base. If we want to be a wealthy nation, we have got to make things here, and hopefully we can get the American people to start to understand this.

In 1914, Henry Ford decided to start paying his workers $5.00 a day, which was more than double the average wage for auto workers at the time.

One of the reasons why he did this was because he felt that his workers should be able to afford to buy the vehicles that they were making. This is what he wrote in 1926

“The owner, the employees, and the buying public are all one and the same, and unless an industry can so manage itself as to keep wages high and prices low it destroys itself, for otherwise it limits the number of its customers. One’s own employees ought to be one’s own best customers.”

These days Ford is going in the complete opposite direction. Pretty soon, Ford won’t be making any more small vehicles in the United States at all

Ford is shifting all North American small-car production from the U.S. to Mexico, CEO Mark Fields told investors today in Dearborn, even though its plans to invest in Mexico have become a lightning rod for controversy in this year’s presidential election.

Over the next two to three years, we will have migrated all of our small-car production to Mexico and out of the United States,” Fields said.

Could Ford keep jobs in America?

Of course they could. During the second quarter of 2016, Ford reported a net income of 2,000,000,000 dollars.

But if they move production to Mexico they can boost that profit just a little bit higher.

Shame on them.

Needless to say, Donald Trump is quite upset about this move by Ford. This was his response

“We shouldn’t allow it to happen. They’ll make their cars, they’ll employ thousands of people, not from this country and they’ll sell their car across the border,” Trump said. “When we send our jobs out of Michigan, we’re also sending our tax base.”

And he is exactly right about all of this. We can’t afford to lose more good paying jobs, we can’t afford for the middle class to shrink any more than it already has, and we certainly can’t afford our tax base to continue to deteriorate.

We may think that we can live on borrowed money indefinitely, but that is going to catch up with us in a major way at some point.

Sadly, Ford is not the only auto company doing this. Just like Ross Perot once predicted, there is a giant sucking sound as good paying auto jobs leave the United States and head to Mexico

Ford isn’t alone. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said earlier this year it will end production of all cars in the U.S. by the end of this year as it discontinues production of the Dodge Dart in Belvidere, Ill. and the Chrysler 200 in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

In recent years, automakers that include General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota and Volkswagen have all announced plans to either expand existing plants or build new ones in Mexico.

The bad news for American workers won’t end once all of our manufacturing jobs are gone.

Today there are millions of Americans that make their living by driving, but the revolution in self-driving vehicles threatens to make large numbers of those jobs obsolete.

Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Google, Apple and a whole host of other big corporations have been feverishly working on this technology, and many of the tests have gone very well so far.

Once this technology starts being rolled out on a widespread basis, the job losses could be absolutely staggering. Just consider the following numbers which come from Wolf Richter

  • 1.8 million heavy-truck and tractor-trailer long-haul drivers in 2014, expected to grow 4% a year (BLS), with a median pay of $40,260 in 2015. At this growth rate, there will be 1.94 million long-haul drivers by the end of this year.
  • 1.33 million delivery truck drivers in 2014, expected to grow 4% a year (BLS), with a median pay of $27,800 in 2015. They’re picking up and/or delivering packages and small shipments within the city or region, driving a vehicle of 26,000 pounds or less, usually between a distribution center and businesses or households. At this growth rate, there will be 1.44 million drivers by the end of this year.
  • 233,700 taxi drivers and chauffeurs in 2014, growing at 13% annually (BLS). They earned a median pay of $23,510 in 2015. One in five worked part time. This doesn’t – or doesn’t fully – reflect the “rideshare” drivers working for Uber, Lyft, and the like.
  • “Over 500,000” rideshare drivers are estimated to ply the trade in the US. It’s a high-growth sector: the number of Uber drivers in the US doubled in 2015 from the prior year to 327,000. Half of them worked 15 hours or less per week.

In order to have a thriving middle class, we have got to have middle class jobs.

Unfortunately, big corporations have become absolutely obsessed with finding ways to eliminate expensive American workers by sending jobs overseas or by replacing them with technology altogether.

The elite will always need people to cut their hair and wait on them at restaurants, but those aren’t the kinds of jobs that can support middle class families.

As I noted yesterday, for the first time ever the middle class in America has become a minority and poverty is on the rise all over the nation. The long-term trends that are eviscerating the middle class are accelerating, and there doesn’t appear to be any quick fix which will turn things around dramatically any time soon.

So the middle class is going to get smaller and smaller and smaller, and that has dramatic implications for the future of this country.

*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.*

20 Super Wealthy Individuals Have More Money Than The Poorest 152 Million Americans Combined

Wealthy - Public Domain

Do we need any more evidence before we will finally admit that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed?  As you will see below, when you add together all of the wealth of the poorest 152 million Americans, it still falls short of the combined net worth of the 20 wealthiest Americans.  This is a list that includes Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg.  To many, the core of the problem is that people like Gates and Buffett are making too much money.  But I disagree.  There is nothing wrong with working hard, building a company and making lots of money.  The real problem is the fact that the bottom half of the country is steadily getting poorer.  Once upon a time, this nation had the healthiest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but now that middle class is dying.  If we don’t do something about this, soon we may not have much of a middle class left.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, it seemed like virtually everyone was middle class.  I didn’t know of any family that had a father that was unemployed, everyone seemed to have a house and a couple of cars, and no kid that I went to school with could have been described as “impoverished”.  Yes, life was definitely not perfect, but it seemed to me that pretty much everyone was able to maintain a decent standard of living.

Sadly, things have dramatically changed since then.  Yes, the wealthy have gotten wealthier, but at the same time the ranks of the impoverished have absolutely exploded.  At this point, 20 extremely wealthy individuals have more money than the poorest 152 million Americans combined

The richest 20 Americans, with a combined net worth of $732billion, are as wealthy as half of the U.S. population, according to a new study.

Findings showed that the country’s 20 wealthiest people, which includes Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, now own more wealth than the bottom half of the population combined or 152 million people.

The study by the Institute for Policy Studies also found that America’s wealthiest 400, with a combined net worth of $2.34 trillion, own more wealth than that of a staggering 194 million people – the bottom 61 per cent of the country combined.

At one time, nobody would have debated that the U.S. had the healthiest middle class on the entire planet.  But now we have actually fallen behind a whole bunch of other nations.  According to CNN, the United States now only ranks 19th when it comes to median wealth per adult…

Americans’ median wealth is a mere $44,900 per adult — half have more, half have less. That’s only good enough for 19th place, below Japan, Canada, Australia and much of Western Europe.

“Americans tend to think of their middle class as being the richest in the world, but it turns out, in terms of wealth, they rank fairly low among major industrialized countries,” said Edward Wolff, a New York University economics professor who studies net worth.

$44,900 per adult may sound okay, but when you look deeper into the numbers things become quite disturbing.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, household wealth for the poorest 40 percent of all Americans dropped significantly between 2000 and 2011.  For the bottom 20 percent, median household wealth dropped from negative 905 dollars in 2000 to negative 6,029 dollars in 2011.  For the next 20 percent, median household wealth dropped from 14,309 dollars in 2000 to 7,263 dollars in 2011.  In other words, the poor have been getting poorer…

Median Household Net Worth - US Census Bureau

So what is the solution?

Well, the truth is that you can’t have a thriving middle class without lots of middle class jobs.  And unfortunately for us, our economy has been bleeding middle class jobs for a very long time.

As I pointed out just recently, if the U.S. government was actually using honest numbers, the unemployment rate in this nation would be more than 22 percent.

But even if you have a job, that does not mean that you are part of the middle class.  As the quality of our jobs has deteriorated, the ranks of the “working poor” have absolutely exploded.  In recent years, we have seen part-time and temp jobs become a much larger part of our economy, and as a result more Americans than ever are really struggling to make ends meet.

In an article that I published near the end of October, I included brand new income numbers that were just released by the Social Security Administration. To me, these numbers are absolutely staggering…

-38 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-51 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-62 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-71 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

If you are extremely frugal, you might be able to support a middle class family of five on $50,000 a year.  But as you can see, 71 percent of all American workers make less than that.

Even if you have a mother and a father that are both working, that is often not enough to make ends meet.  Many Americans are working as hard as they possibly can, only to find that they still come up short at the end of the month.

And with each passing year, the middle class continues to get smaller.  It is almost as if we are playing a really bizarre game of economic musical chairs.  With each round, more chairs get removed from the circle, and all the rest of us just hope and pray that we will get to remain part of the middle class for a little while longer.

What we are doing as a nation is simply not working.  We are now seeing the consequences of shipping good paying jobs out of the country for decades, and yet our leaders continue on with business as usual.

Just look at what Barack Obama is doing.  He is working hard to promote “the Trans-Pacific Partnership“.  This insidious treaty will result in millions more good paying American jobs being lost overseas, but he doesn’t seem to care.

No matter whether it is a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, the game remains the same and the middle class continues to suffer.

When will we ever learn?

1/1000 Of The U.S. Now Controls More Than 1/5 Of The Wealth

Yacht - Eric Lumsden - Flickr

Forget the 1% — the real winners of the post-collapse economy are America’s top one-thousandth.

Using data gleaned from tax returns to estimate the distribution of household wealth in the United States since 1913, economists Emmanuel Saez, of UC-Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman, of the London School of Economics, have determined that the top 0.1 percent of American households control more than 22% of the nation’s wealth.

Or, in layman’s terms, one-thousandth of the country controls one-fifth of the wealth.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Rich hoard cash as their wealth reaches record high

Cash - Public Domain

The amount of individuals that hold more than $30 million in assets has climbed to a new record in 2014, according to a global survey on Wednesday, which also warned that a lack of diversification meant that this wealth is not protected from shocks to the financial system.

12,040 of these new ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals were minted in the year ending June 2014, said the Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report released on Wednesday. This meant a 6 percent increase from last year which pushed the global population of these millionaires to a record 211,275.

With the annual gross domestic product of the U.S. closing in on the $17 trillion mark, according to the World Bank, this means that the ultra-rich now have almost twice the wealth of the world’s largest economy.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

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