Posts tagged America

Shocking Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Everyone Should Know

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

Shocking Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Everyone Should Know

 

Abandoned-Packard-Automobile-Factory-Photo-by-Albert-Duce-300x300How long can America continue to burn up wealth?  How long can this nation continue to consume far more wealth than it produces?  The trade deficit is one of the biggest reasons for the steady decline of the U.S. economy, but many Americans don’t even understand what it is.  Basically, we are buying far more stuff from the rest of the world than they are buying from us.  That means that far more money is constantly leaving the country than is coming into the country.  In order to keep the game going, we have to go to the people that we bought all of that stuff from and ask them to lend our money back to us.  Or lately, we just have the Federal Reserve create new money out of thin air.  This is called “quantitative easing”.  Our current debt-fueled lifestyle is dependent on this cycle continuing.  In order to live like we do, we must consume far more wealth than we produce.  If someday we are forced to only live on the wealth that we create, it will require a massive adjustment in our standard of living.  We have become great at consuming wealth but not so great at creating it.  But as a result of running gigantic trade deficits year after year, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions upon millions of jobs, and America is being deindustrialized at a staggering pace.

Most Americans won’t even notice, but the latest monthly trade deficit increased to 42.3 billion dollars

The U.S. trade deficit climbed to the highest level in five months in February as demand for American exports fell while imports increased slightly.
 
The deficit increased to $42.3 billion, which was 7.7% above the January imbalance of $39.3 billion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

When the trade deficit increases, it means that even more wealth, even more jobs and even more businesses have left the United States.

In essence, we have gotten poorer as a nation.

Have you ever wondered how China has gotten so wealthy?

Just a few decades ago, they were basically a joke economically.

So how in the world did they get so powerful?

Well, one of the primary ways that they did it was by selling us far more stuff than we sold to them.  If we had refused to do business with communist China, they never would have become what they have become today.  It was our decisions that allowed China to become an economic powerhouse.

Last year, we sold 122 billion dollars of stuff to China.

That sounds like a lot until you learn that China sold 440 billion dollars of stuff to us.

We fill up our shopping carts with lots of cheap plastic trinkets that are “made in China”, and they pile up gigantic mountains of our money which we beg them to lend back to us so that we can pay our bills.

Who is winning that game and who is losing that game?

Below, I have posted our yearly trade deficits with China since 1990.  Let’s see if you can spot the trend…

1990: 10 billion dollars

1991: 12 billion dollars

1992: 18 billion dollars

1993: 22 billion dollars

1994: 29 billion dollars

1995: 33 billion dollars

1996: 39 billion dollars

1997: 49 billion dollars

1998: 56 billion dollars

1999: 68 billion dollars

2000: 83 billion dollars

2001: 83 billion dollars

2002: 103 billion dollars

2003: 124 billion dollars

2004: 162 billion dollars

2005: 202 billion dollars

2006: 234 billion dollars

2007: 258 billion dollars

2008: 268 billion dollars

2009: 226 billion dollars

2010: 273 billion dollars

2011: 295 billion dollars

2012: 315 billion dollars

2013: 318 billion dollars

Yikes!

It has been estimated that the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every 1 billion dollars of goods that are imported from overseas, and according to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing about half a million jobs to China every single year.

Considering the high level of unemployment that we now have in this country, can we really afford to be doing that?

Overall, the United States has accumulated a total trade deficit with the rest of the world of more than 8 trillion dollars since 1975.

As a result, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and our economic infrastructure has been absolutely gutted.

Just look at what has happened to manufacturing jobs in America.  Back in the 1980s, more than 20 percent of the jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs.  Today, only about 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.

And we have fewer Americans working in manufacturing today than we did in 1950 even though our population has more than doubled since then…

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Many people find this statistic hard to believe, but the United States has lost a total of more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

Millions of good paying jobs have been lost.

As a result, the middle class is shriveling up, and at this point 9 out of the top 10 occupations in America pay less than $35,000 a year.

For a long time, U.S. consumers attempted to keep up their middle class lifestyles by going into constantly increasing amounts of debt, but now it is becoming increasingly apparent that middle class consumers are tapped out.

In response, major retailers are closing thousands of stores in poor and middle class neighborhoods all over the country.  You can see some amazing photos of America’s abandoned shopping malls right here.

If we could start reducing the size of our trade deficit, that would go a long way toward getting the United States back on the right economic path.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama has been negotiating a treaty in secret which is going to send the deindustrialization of America into overdrive.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific”, and it is going to result in millions more good jobs being sent to the other side of the planet where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.

So what will this country look like when we lose tens of millions more jobs than we already have?

U.S. workers are being merged into a giant global labor pool where they must compete directly for jobs with people making less than a dollar an hour with no benefits.

Obama tells us that globalization is good for us and that Americans need to be ready to adjust to a “level playing field”.

The quality of our jobs has already been declining for decades, and if we continue down this path the quality of our jobs is going to get a whole lot worse and our economic infrastructure will continue to be absolutely gutted.

At one time, the city of Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city on the entire planet and it had the highest per capita income in the United States.  But today, it is a rotting, decaying hellhole that the rest of the world laughs at.

In the end, the rest of the nation is going to suffer the same fate as Detroit unless Americans are willing to stand up and fight for their economy while they still can.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

55 Things About America You May Not Know

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Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com

By Michael Snyder

55 Things About America You May Not Know

 

American-Flag-2014-Photo-by-HARRIS-News-300x225Is America the greatest nation on the planet?  Before you answer that question, you might want to check out the statistics that I have shared in this article first.  The reality is that the United States is in a deep state of decline, and it is getting harder to deny that fact with each passing day.  Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially we are a train wreck.  Many that are “patriotic” attempt to put a happy face on our growing problems, but the truly patriotic thing to do is to admit just how bad things have gotten so that we can start finding solutions.  If you truly love this country, then you should know that this nation needs a huge wake up call.  We have abandoned the values and the principles that early Americans held so dear, and as a result our society is a giant mess.  The following are 55 things about America that you may not know…

#1 We are supposed to have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but only 25 percent of all Americans know how long U.S. Senators are elected for (6 years), and only 20 percent of all Americans know how many U.S. senators there are.

#2 Americans spend more on health care per capita than anyone else in the world by far, and yet we only rank 35th in life expectancy.

#3 Only one state in the entire country has an obesity rate of under 20 percent.  11 states have an obesity rate of over 30 percent.

#4 Of all the major industrialized nations, America is the most obese.  Mexico is #2.

#5 Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese, but it is being projected that 42 percent of all Americans could be obese by the year 2030.

#6 According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 31 percent of all food in the United States gets wasted.  In case you were wondering, that amounts to approximately 133 billion pounds of food a year.

#7 America has the highest incarceration rate and the largest total prison population in the entire world by a wide margin.

#8 In America, we even put 81-year-old women in prison for feeding the birds.

#9 According to a Newsweek survey taken a few years ago, 29 percent of all Americans could not even name the vice president.

#10 Americans spend more time sitting in traffic than anyone else in the world.

#11 60 percent of Americans report feeling “angry or irritable”.  Two years ago that number was at 50 percent.

#12 36 percent of Americans admit that they have yelled at a customer service agent during the past year.

#13 Only 30 percent of all Americans can tell you in what year the 9/11 attacks happened.

#14 There are more “deaths by reptile” in America than anywhere else in the world.

#15 Right now, 29 percent of all Americans under the age of 35 are living with their parents.

#16 Average SAT scores have been falling for years, and the level of education that our kids are receiving in most of our public schools is a total joke.

#17 According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug.  An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.

#18 Americans spend more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs each year.

#19 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors in the United States write more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants each year.

#20 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.

#21 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

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

#23 According to the federal government, the number of heroin addicts in the United States has more than doubled since 2002.

#24 It is hard to believe, but 56 percent of all Americans now have “subprime credit”.

#25 America exports more weapons to other countries than anyone else in the world.

#26 The United States has the most complicated tax system on the entire planet.

#27 Corruption is rampant throughout our society.  In fact, America leads the world in money given to fake charities.

#28 America leads the world in soft drink consumption by a wide margin.  Today, the average American drinks more than 600 sodas a year.

#29 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be “middle class”.

#30 70 percent of Americans do not “feel engaged or inspired at their jobs”.

#31 40 percent of all workers in the United States actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968 after you account for inflation.

#32 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6 Americans is on food stamps.

#33 The marriage rate in the United States has fallen to an all-time low.  Right now it is sitting at a yearly rate of 6.8 marriages per 1000 people.

#34 In the United States today, more than half of all couples “move in together” before they get married.

#35 America has the highest divorce rate in the world by a good margin.

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

#37 100 years ago, 4.52 were living in the average U.S. household, but now the average U.S. household only consists of 2.59 people.

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

#39 For women under the age of 30 in the United States, more than half of all babies are being born out of wedlock.

#40 At this point, approximately one out of every three children in the United States lives in a home without a father.

#41 In 1970, the average woman had her first child when she was 21.4 years old.  Now the average woman has her first child when she is 25.6 years old.

#42 America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world by a very wide margin.

#43 Approximately one out of every four teen girls in the United States has at least one sexually transmitted disease.

#44 America has the highest STD infection rate in the entire industrialized world.

#45 According to the latest figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are 20 million new sexually-transmitted infections in the United States every single year, and Americans in the 15 to 24-year-old age range account for approximately 50 percent of those new sexually-transmitted infections.

#46 As I wrote about recently, there are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the U.S. according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

#47 America produces more pornography than any other nation in the world.

#48 America has the most lawyers per capita in the entire world.

#49 If you choose to be a “Constitutionalist” in America today, you may get labeled as a potential terrorist by the U.S. government.

#50 America has the largest national debt in the history of the world.  Back in 1980, the U.S. national debt was less than one trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 17 trillion dollars.

#51 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.

#52 Americans spend more money on elections than anyone else does in the world by a very wide margin.

#53 65 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the U.S. system of government and its effectiveness”.  That is the highest level of dissatisfaction that Gallup has ever recorded.

#54 Only 8 percent of Americans believe that Congress is doing a “good” or “excellent” job.

#55 70 percent of Americans do not have confidence that the federal government will “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.”

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This article first appeared here at the The American Dream.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://endoftheamericandream.com

 

31 Percent Of All Food In America Is Wasted – And Why That Is About To End

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

31 Percent Of All Food In America Is Wasted – And Why That Is About To End

 

Burger-And-Fries-Photo-by-Ewan-Munro-300x300According to a stunning new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly a third of all food produced in the United States gets wasted.  We are probably the most wasteful society in the history of the planet, and we are also one of the most gluttonous.  More than 35 percent of all Americans are considered to be officially “obese” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Unfortunately, this era of gluttony and taking food for granted will soon be coming to an end.  Thanks to crippling drought in key growing areas and other extremely bizarre weather patterns, a massive food crisis is beginning to emerge all over the planet.  If you don’t think that this is going to affect you, then you simply are not paying attention.  Approximately half of all produce grown in the United States comes from the state of California, and right now California is suffering through the worst stretch of drought on record.  Food prices are going to start soaring, and that is going to affect the household budget of every family in America.

Needless to say, a time is coming when Americans will not waste food so recklessly.  But for the moment, we still have a tremendous amount of disrespect for the value of food.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we waste a staggering 133 billion pounds of food each year

Nearly a third of the 430 billion pounds of food produced for Americans to eat is wasted, a potential catastrophe for landfills and a wake-up call to officials scrambling to feed the hungry, according to a stunning new report from the Department of Agriculture.
 
The just-issued report revealed that in 2010, 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of food produced for Americans to eat was wasted, either molded or improperly cooked, suffered “natural shrinkage” due to moisture loss, or because people became disinterested in what they purchased.

Not that we need to stuff any more food into our mouths.  As I mentioned above, we have an epidemic of obesity in this nation.  In fact, the CDC says that 35 percent of the entire population is “obese”…

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of US adults (35.7 percent) are obese, which is perhaps the best argument that Americans can offset a large part of the food waste problem by simply eating less. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the US was $147 billion in 2008; the costs of providing medical assistance for individuals who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, thereby placing an enormous strain on healthcare costs.

Since we are such gluttons and we are so incredibly wasteful, we should have plenty of food to share with those in need, right?

Unfortunately, we are also extremely greedy and greatly lacking in compassion.

As I have written about previously, feeding the homeless has been banned in cities all over the nation, and other cities have passed regulations that greatly discourage the feeding of the homeless

Feeding the homeless is about to get harder as a new policy is set to begin this Saturday, Feb. 15, in Columbia, SC. Charities and non-profits will be required to pay a fee and obtain a permit 15 days in advance in order to feed the homeless in parks.
 
One impacted charity that was interviewed by the Free Times, Food Not Bombs, has been serving food to the homeless in Finlay Park every Sunday for 12 years. The group’s organizer, Judith Turnipseed, noted that the group has an impeccable track record and always tidies up after the meal. But with the new crackdown, Food Not Bombs will have to pay at least $120 per week for the right to feed the homeless.
 
Since the Columbia City Council approved its exile plan in August, the city has been trying to herd its homeless people to a shelter on the outskirts of town and keep them away from downtown. If charities continue to provide food in downtown parks, the thinking goes, it will allow homeless people to continue to live downtown, rather than being forced to leave.

What is wrong with us?

While we stuff our faces with more french fries and chicken wings, we have an appalling lack of compassion for those that are not able to take care of themselves.

Perhaps we deserve what is coming.

The horrible drought that never seems to end is rapidly turning much of the western half of the country into a barren wasteland.

You can see some incredible before and after photos of the drought in California right here.

The water level in Folsom Lake has dropped 80 percent in just two years.  In 2011, the lake was at 97 percent of capacity.  Now it is just at 17 percent of capacity and it is still dropping.

If a miracle does not happen, the upcoming growing season is going to be absolutely disastrous.  As I have written about previously, California farmers have already decided to allow half a million acres of farmland to sit idle this year because of the extremely dry conditions.

And it certainly does not help that the government has decided to cut off water supplies to many of the farmers.  The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Holly Deyo

Government has lost its mind. It is no more evident than their decision last week to cut off water to America’s food basket. Squeezed by the worst-ever drought in the state’s history, California is dying of thirst. Crushing news was delivered to farmer’s that no water would be coming from the Federal government. This dreaded decision was compounded by the Sierra Mountains getting just 25% of normal snowpack. There is no water to replenish already dangerously low reservoirs, so no water for farmers.

Needless to say, there are a lot of farmers that are going to be absolutely crippled by this.  The following is from Fox News

A federal agency’s recent announcement that the California’s Central Valley will get zero percent water allocation this year was devastating for farmers already dealing with the worst drought seen in decades.
 
One of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, the enormous valley is reeling after the driest year in more than a century. But last week, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, which supplies water to a third of the irrigated farmland in California through a 500-mile network of canals and tunnel, said it won’t be able to deliver any of the water sought by farmers.
 
“It goes beyond devastation, you’re going to see farms that have been in business 30 and 40 years, they do not have any water, they are out of business,” said Dennis Falaschi, general manager of the Panoche Water District.

If California produces much less food than it normally does, that means that food prices are going to start skyrocketing.  Here is more from Holly Deyo

As one Millennium-Ark reader pointed out in an email last week, after the jump in beef prices, people will look to chicken, pork, fish and turkey. Chicken is already up though not as much as beef.  This will, in turn, drive up their costs and affect availability of these other meats. Keep in mind that California also produces all of these proteins plus lamb. Then consider this: Ag Specialists Warn of Higher Wheat Prices Due to Drought. It’s not just beef, weather is clobbering food from all angles.

And please keep in mind that the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has already been shrinking for seven years in a row, and that it is now the smallest that it has been since 1951.

But back in 1951, the size of the U.S. population was less than half of what it is today.

For much more on the emerging food crisis, please see this video.

Let us certainly hope and pray that the drought in California ends soon and that things get back to normal.

But I wouldn’t count on that.

According to National Geographic, the scientific experts that have studied these things tell us that it has been quite common throughout history for that region of North America to suffer through extended droughts that last for a decade or more.

One drought even lasted for about 200 years.

So the current drought in California might end next year.

Or it might last for the rest of our lifetimes.

We simply do not know.

But what does seem clear is that the days of taking our food for granted will soon be coming to an end.

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This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

If America Continues To Go Down The Same Path As Europe, This Is What Life Will Be Like…

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Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com

By Michael Snyder

If America Continues To Go Down The Same Path As Europe, This Is What Life Will Be Like…

 

EUSSR-Flag-Photo-by-Finn-Skovgaard-300x256Becoming more like Europe is not a good thing.  But that is the path that we are currently on.  For the most part, Europeans live in a socialist “Big Brother” system in which the government completely dominates your life from the cradle to the grave.  Of course there are differences from country to country, but generally speaking the lives of most Europeans are very tightly regulated.  You see, the truth is that high levels of individual liberty and freedom are considered to be “dangerous” by the European elite.  They believe that if we are all allowed to just do whatever we want that it would result in utter chaos.  They are convinced that life is better when those that are smarter (them) control the lives of everyone else.  In essence, Europe is like a giant religious cult in many ways (minus the religion).  With each passing year, the number of rules and regulations governing the daily lives of Europeans steadily grows, as does the level of control.  If you try to live outside of that control, you could very well find yourself in a direct confrontation with the authorities very rapidly.

Just consider what is happening in Germany.  Authorities there have stated repeatedly that they do not believe in having any “parallel societies”, and therefore everyone must participate in the system that the government has established.

That includes all children.  In Germany today, almost all forms of homeschooling are illegal.  In fact, one judge shockingly ruled that one set of parents could not have custody of their children because they might move them to another country and homeschool them there

A judge has issued a stunning verdict in a homeschooling case in Germany, ordering that the parents cannot have custody of their children because the family might move to another country and homeschool, posing a “concrete endangerment” to the children.
 
Dirk and Petra Wunderlich’s case made international headlines in August when 20 armed police arrived with a battering ram and forcibly took their four children from their home in Darmstadt, Germany, and enrolled them in public school.
 
As WND reported at the time, the children, ages 7 to 14, were taken into police custody. They were allowed to return home three weeks later when their father and mother, given no choice by the federal bureaucracy in Germany, agreed to allow their kids to attend public schools despite their objection to the social and religious instruction there.

Are you starting to see what I meant when I compared Europe to a cult?

In Europe, government is god, and everyone and everything belongs to the government.

Apparently, that even includes the life savings of their own citizens.  The following is from a Reuters article that was just posted this week…

The savings of the European Union’s 500 million citizens could be used to fund long-term investments to boost the economy and help plug the gap left by banks since the financial crisis, an EU document says.

Did you catch that?  The EU apparently believes that they could use the private savings of their own citizens “to fund long-term investments” any time that they want.

But what if you don’t want your life savings to be invested in that way?

Too bad for you.

In fact, according to that Reuters article the EU wants to find ways to “mobilize more personal pension savings” so that there will be a larger pool with which to potentially fund long-term projects…

The Commission will ask the bloc’s insurance watchdog in the second half of this year for advice on a possible draft law “to mobilize more personal pension savings for long-term financing”, the document said.

In Europe, they also tend to love any “Big Brother” technologies that will allow them to watch, track, monitor and record the activities of their citizens.

For example, it has been reported that in the UK there are 1.85 million video cameras watching the population, and London has been called “the most watched city in the world“.

The control freaks in the UK are so paranoid that it is even illegal to carry a knife in public, but despite all of their crazy laws the rate of violent crime in the UK is still far higher than it is in the United States.

Now, the UK has decided that all of the medical records for the entire population will be gathered into a single database.  The following is from a recent TechDirt article

The UK government is currently building a database called care.data that will contain all of England’s medical records. It’s being promoted as providing valuable information for healthcare management and medical researchers that will lead to improved treatment.

But this database will not be private.  In fact, it is being reported that information from this database will be sold to drug companies and insurance companies

Drug and insurance companies will from later this year be able to buy information on patients – including mental health conditions and diseases such as cancer, as well as smoking and drinking habits – once a single English database of medical data has been created.
 
Harvested from GP and hospital records, medical data covering the entire population will be uploaded to the repository controlled by a new arms-length NHS information centre, starting in March. Never before has the entire medical history of the nation been digitised and stored in one place.

How would you feel if that was being done to your private medical information?

Not that the U.S. is a bastion of freedom and liberty these days either.

For example, Infowars is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security plans to launch a “national license plate tracking system”…

The Department of Homeland Security is set to activate a national license plate tracking system that will be shared with law enforcement, allowing DHS officers to take photos of any license plate using their smartphone and upload it to a database which will include a “hot list” of “target vehicles”.

The details are included in a PDF attachment uploaded yesterday to the Federal Business Opportunities website under a solicitation entitled “National License Plate Recognition Database.”

The system will “track vehicle license plate numbers that pass through cameras or are voluntarily entered into the system from a variety of sources (access control systems, asset recovery specialists, etc.) and uploaded to share with law enforcement” in order to help locate “criminal aliens and absconders.”

And for many more ways that the U.S. is becoming a “Big Brother society”, please see my previous article entitled “32 Privacy Destroying Technologies That Are Systematically Transforming America Into A Giant Prison“.

Another way that America is becoming more like Europe is in the area of religious behavior.

At one time, Europe was a hotbed for religious faith.  Of course those days are long gone.  And the United States is now heading down the exact same path, although Europe is still way ahead of us.  The following is from a Pew Research survey conducted a few years ago…

Half of Americans deem religion very important in their lives; fewer than a quarter in Spain (22%), Germany (21%), Britain (17%) and France (13%) share this view.

So why has religion become so unimportant?

Well, it is because that is what the government system tells them to believe from the time that they are little children.

As I mentioned earlier, the government dominates your life from the beginning to the end in Europe.  This even includes decisions about ending your life.

In fact, in Belgium they actually want to extend the euthanasia law to children

Making the argument that everybody has the right to die, Karine Lalieux, a Socialist member of the Belgian House, is pushing legislation that would extend the country’s 2002 euthanasia law to minors under 18.
 
“Our responsibility is to allow everybody to live, but also to die, in dignity,’’ said Lalieux.

And in the Netherlands they actually have mobile euthanasia teams that go door to door helping elderly people end their lives in the comfort of their own homes.

Europe is not a model for the rest of us to follow.

Instead, Europe should serve as a stark warning to the rest of the world about what can happen when you let the control freaks get too much control.

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This article first appeared here at the The American Dream.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://endoftheamericandream.com
 
 

19 Statistics About The Drugging Of America That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

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Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com

By Michael Snyder

19 Statistics About The Drugging Of America That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

 

Pills-Photo-by-Tibor-Kadek-300x300The American people are the most drugged people in the history of the planet.  Illegal drugs get most of the headlines, but the truth is that the number of Americans that are addicted to legal drugs is far greater than the number of Americans that are addicted to illegal drugs.  As you will see below, close to 70 percent of all Americans are currently on at least one prescription drug.  In addition, there are 60 million Americans that “abuse alcohol” and 22 million Americans that use illegal drugs.  What that means is that almost everyone that you meet is going to be on something.  That sounds absolutely crazy but it is true.  We are literally being drugged out of our minds.  In fact, as you will read about below, there are 70 million Americans that are taking “mind-altering drugs” right now.  If it seems like most people cannot think clearly these days, it is because they can’t.  We love our legal drugs and it is getting worse with each passing year.  And considering the fact that big corporations are making tens of billions of dollars peddling their drugs to the rest of us, don’t expect things to change any time soon.  The following are 19 statistics about the drugging of America that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 An astounding 70 million Americans are taking legal mind-altering drugs right now.

#2 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors wrote more than 250 million prescriptions for antidepressants during 2010.

#3 According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug.  An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.

#4 Americans spent more than 280 billion dollars on prescription drugs during 2013.

#5 According to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years old say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month.

#6 There are 60 million Americans that “abuse alcohol”.

#7 According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 22 million Americans use illegal drugs.

#8 Incredibly, more than 11 percent of all Americans that are 12 years of age or older admit that they have driven home under the influence of alcohol at least once during the past year.

#9 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is an unintentional drug overdose death in the United States every 19 minutes.

#10 In the United States today, prescription painkillers kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

#11 According to the CDC, approximately three quarters of a million people a year are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States because of adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.

#12 According to Alternet, “11 of the 12 new-to-market drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration were priced above $100,000 per-patient per-year” in 2012.

#13 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.

#14 Many of these antidepressants contain warnings that “suicidal thoughts” are one of the side effects that should be expected.  The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 rose by close to 30 percent between 1999 and 2010.  The number of Americans that are killed by suicide now exceeds the number of Americans that die as a result of car accidents every year.

#15 In 2010, the average teen in the United States was taking 1.2 central nervous system drugs.  Those are the kinds of drugs which treat conditions such as ADHD and depression.

#16 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants as children in Europe are.

#17 A shocking Government Accountability Office report discovered that approximately one-third of all foster children in the United States are on at least one psychiatric drug.

#18 A survey conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that more than 15 percent of all U.S. high school seniors abuse prescription drugs.

#19 It turns out that dealing drugs is extremely profitable.  The 11 largest pharmaceutical companies combined to rake in approximately $85,000,000,000 in profits in 2012.

In America today, doctors are trained that there are just two potential solutions to any problem.  Either you prescribe a pill or you cut someone open.  Surgery and drugs are pretty much the only alternatives they offer us.

And an endless barrage of television commercials have trained all of us to think that there is a “pill for every problem”.

Are you in pain?

Just take a pill.

Are you feeling blue?

Just take a pill.

Do you need a spark in your marriage?

Just take a pill.

And most Americans assume that all of these pills are perfectly safe.

After all, the government would never approve something that wasn’t safe, right?

Sadly, what most Americans don’t realize is that there is a revolving door between big pharmaceutical corporations and the government agencies that supposedly “regulate” them.  Many of those that are now in charge of our “safety” have spent their entire careers peddling legal drugs to all of us.

We have become a nation of drugged out zombies, and it is all perfectly legal.  The funny thing is that many of these “legal drugs” have just slightly different formulations from their “illegal” counterparts.

If more Americans understood what they were actually taking, would that cause them to stop?

Perhaps some would, but for the most part Americans are totally in love with their drugs and giving them up would not be easy.

Just ask anyone that has tried.

So what do you think about the drugging of America?

 

This article first appeared here at the The American Dream.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://endoftheamericandream.com

You Can Buy A House For One Dollar Or Less In Economically Depressed Cities All Over America

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

 

You Can Buy A House For One Dollar Or Less In Economically Depressed Cities All Over America

 

photo-1-300x300Would you like to buy a house for one dollar?  If someone came up to you on the street and asked you that question, you would probably respond by saying that it sounds too good to be true.  But this is actually happening in economically-depressed cities all over America.  Of course there are a number of reasons why you might want to think twice before buying any of these homes, and I will get into those reasons in just a little bit.  First, however, it is worth noting that many of the cities where these “free houses” are available were once some of the most prosperous cities in the entire country.  In fact, the city of Detroit once had the highest per capita income in the entire nation.  But as millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas, these once prosperous communities have degenerated into rotting, decaying hellholes.  Now homes that once housed thriving middle class families cannot even be given away.  This is happening all over America, and what we are witnessing right now is only just the beginning.

The photo that I have posted below was sent to me by a reader just the other day.  It is a photo of a house in Yakima, Washington that is apparently being given away for free.  At one time it was probably quite a lovely home, but now nobody seems to want it…

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This piqued my curiosity, so I started doing some research and I discovered that homes all over the nation are being sold off for a dollar or less.  The following are just a few examples…

-Buffalo, New York: “The Urban Homestead Program that is offered by the City of Buffalo enables qualified buyers to purchase a home that has been deemed ‘homestead eligible’ for $1.00 and there are plenty of properties left. There are three main requirements when purchasing a homestead property; the owner must fix all code violations within 18 months, have immediate access to at least $5000, and live there for at least three years. You also have to cover the closing costs of the purchase.”

-Gary, Indiana: “Officials say that a third of the houses in Gary are unoccupied, hollowed dwellings spread across a city that, like other former industrial powerhouses, has lost more than half its population in the last half-century.

While some of those homes will be demolished, Gary is exploring a more affordable way to lift its haggard tax base and reduce the excess of empty structures: sell them for $1.”

-South Bend, Indiana: “How could you refuse this offer? The city of South Bend, Indiana wants to give this handsome circa-1851 Italianate farmhouse away to anyone willing to properly restore it. Aside from the boarded up windows (the boards are painted to look like real windows), the place is in pretty good shape, with a completely restored exterior, new roof, and all new HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. All you’ll need to do is restore the gutted (but clean as can be) interior.”

-Detroit, Michigan: “Now that the motor city has effectively run out of gas and declared bankruptcy, some rather eye-popping deals are presenting themselves to first time home buyers who appreciate the challenge of a fixer-upper.

Hundreds of Detroit homes currently listed on Zillow have asking prices below $5,000, with at least one seller so desperate as to offer his house for just $1, ABC News reported.”

—–

And guess who is selling more “one dollar homes” than anyone else?

If you guessed “the federal government” you would be correct.

Right now, the federal government is selling foreclosed homes to low income families all over the country for just one dollar

HUD’s Dollar Homes initiative helps local governments to foster housing opportunities for low to moderate income families and address specific community needs by offering them the opportunity to purchase qualified HUD-owned homes for $1 each.
 
Dollar Homes are single-family homes that are acquired by the Federal Housing Administration (which is part of HUD) as a result of foreclosure actions. Single-family properties are made available through the program whenever FHA is unable to sell the homes for six months.
 
By selling vacant homes for $1 after six months on the market, HUD makes it possible for communities to fix up the homes and put them to good use at a considerable savings.

Before you get too excited, there are a whole bunch of reasons why you wouldn’t want to actually buy any of these one dollar homes.

First of all, most of them have been totally trashed.  Just to get them up to livable condition would take thousands of dollars in most cases.  Many of them are full of asbestos, and severe wiring and plumbing issues are quite common.

Secondly, you assume all of the liability for a home when you buy it.  So if a homeless person stumbles in and injures himself, you could be liable for his injuries.

Thirdly, many of these homes are in very high crime neighborhoods.  In some of these areas, people will literally rip up and carry away anything that is not bolted down.

Fourthly, property taxes are very high in many of these cities.  Local governments are desperate to get people into these homes so that they can get the taxes flowing again.  In many cases, what you would pay in taxes for a year is more than the true value of the home itself.

So, like I said, these homes are not the “great deal” that they may appear to be at first glance.

But that is not really the issue.

The real question is this: What is causing our communities to decay so dramatically?

And of course a big part of the answer is that the middle class in America is dying.

According to Time Magazine, one new report has discovered that nearly half the country is constantly living in a state of “persistent economic insecurity”…

But as evidenced by a report out Thursday from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, nearly half of Americans are living in a state of “persistent economic insecurity,” that makes it “difficult to look beyond immediate needs and plan for a more secure future.”

That same report also found that 56 percent of all Americans now have “subprime credit”.

We are a nation that is losing our independence and sinking into poverty.

Right now, 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program, and the U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

Millions of our jobs have been shipped overseas, the control freak bureaucrats that are running things are absolutely killing “the little guy”, and poverty in the United States is exploding at a frightening pace.

Things are “changing” in this country, and not for the better.

One way that the death of the middle class is manifesting itself is in the death of shopping malls all over America.  The following is an excerpt from a recent Business Insider article

All across America, once-vibrant shopping malls are boarded up and decaying.
 
Traffic-driving anchors like Sears and JCPenney are shutting down stores, and mall owners are having a hard time finding retailers large enough to replace them. With a fresh wave of closures on the horizon, the problem is set to accelerate, according to retail and real estate analysts.

According to that same article, one prominent retail analyst believes that we could see up to 50 percent of the shopping malls in America close within 20 years…

Within 15 to 20 years, retail consultant Howard Davidowitz expects as many as half of America’s shopping malls to fail. He predicts that only upscale shopping centers with anchors like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus will survive.

And did you catch that last part?  Only the shopping malls in wealthy areas will survive because the wealthy will be the only ones with enough money to support them.

For much more on this phenomenon, please see my previous article entitled “What Recovery? Sears And J.C. Penney Are DYING“.

At this point, things have already gotten so bad that now even Wal-Mart is having trouble.  In fact, Wal-Mart is blaming the recent slowdown in sales on cuts to the federal food stamp program

Wal-Mart announced today that cuts in a federal food stamp program as well as record cold temperatures hurt its fourth quarter profits.
 
After previously reporting “relatively flat” sales for the quarter, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. now says that sales for its namesake store and its Sam’s Club locations would be “slightly negative” for the November-January quarter, according to Agence France-Presse.
 
Wal-Mart’s Chief Financial Officer, Charles Holley, blamed the revised forecast on deeper-than-expected cuts to the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the extreme cold weather occurring in the past month.

This is how far the middle class in America has fallen.  So many people are now on food stamps that even a slight reduction in benefits has a huge impact on the largest retailer in the entire country.

And actually, many rural communities could end up losing their Wal-Mart stores in the years ahead as the economy continues to deteriorate.  In a recent CNBC article entitled “Time to close Wal-Mart stores? Analysts think so“, it was suggested that Wal-Mart should close about 100 “underperforming” supercenters in rural locations around the nation.

We are rapidly becoming “two Americas”.  In the “good America”, the wealthy will still have plenty of retail stores to choose from within easy driving distance from their million dollar homes.

In the “bad America”, which will include most of us, our shopping malls will be closing down and the rotting, decaying homes of our neighbors will be sold off for next to nothing.

So which America do you live in?

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com
 

And the Most Popular Political Party in America is…

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Source: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

By Michael Krieger

And the Most Popular Political Party in America is…

 

The following poll results from Gallup represent the most significant domestic news story I have come across in 2014 to-date. Gallup polling in 2013 showed that the highest number of Americans now identify as Independents since it started asking the question 25 years ago. Specifically, 42% identify as Independents, versus 31% as Democrats and 25% as Republicans. Even more interesting, the trend accelerated as the year progressed. If we look at quarterly results, in 4Q13 46% identified as Independents, versus 29% Democrat and 22% Republican.

This is huge, huge news and it seems that my long held belief that both the Democrat and Republican parties are set to completely disintegrate during this current 4th Turning. Earlier in 2012, wrote a piece titled, The Seventy Percent, in which I predicted that no matter who would go on to win the Presidential election, 70% of the public would be disappointed.

This sets up huge opportunities for non-conventional candidates to gain control of local and national office in 2014 and beyond. While I hold out limited hope for traditional politics, we must fight on all fronts for secular reform and the window right now is wide open.

From Gallup.

Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008.

The results are based on more than 18,000 interviews with Americans from 13 separate Gallup multiple-day polls conducted in 2013.

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In each of the last three years, at least 40% of Americans have identified as independents. These are also the only years in Gallup’s records that the percentage of independents has reached that level.

Democratic identification has also declined in recent years, falling five points from its recent high of 36% in 2008, the year President Barack Obama was elected. The current 31% of Americans identifying as Democrats matches the lowest annual average in the last 25 years.

The percentage of Americans identifying as independents grew over the course of 2013, surging to 46% in the fourth quarter. That coincided with the partial government shutdown in October and the problematic rollout of major provisions of the healthcare law, commonly known as “Obamacare.”

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Americans are increasingly declaring independence from the political parties. It is not uncommon for the percentage of independents to rise in a non-election year, as 2013 was. Still, the general trend in recent years, including the 2012 election year, has been toward greater percentages of Americans identifying with neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party, although most still admit to leaning toward one of the parties.

The increased independence adds a greater level of unpredictability to this year’s congressional midterm elections. Because U.S. voters are less anchored to the parties than ever before, it’s not clear what kind of appeals may be most effective to winning votes. But with Americans increasingly eschewing party labels for themselves, candidates who are less closely aligned to their party or its prevailing doctrine may benefit.

Full article here.

Follow Mike on Twitter.  

Image credit: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

 

The Knockout Game Is Just A Preview Of The Chaos That Is Coming To The Streets Of America

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Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com

By Michael Snyder

 

The Knockout Game Is Just A Preview Of The Chaos That Is Coming To The Streets Of America

 

BoxingThere is a hot new game being played in cities all over America, and it is very simple.  You pick out a defenseless person on the street and you try to knock them out.  In most areas, it is known as “the knockout game”.  In some communities it is called by other names such as “point-em-out, knock-em-out” and “polar bear hunting”.  In many instances, the perpetrators don’t even try to steal anything from the people that they knock out.  The goal is just to “have fun” by brutally attacking an innocent victim.  Well, if this is what young thugs in America will do for fun when times are still good, what will they be willing to do when our economy really starts falling apart?  Yes, the U.S. economy has definitely been steadily declining, but the truth is that what we are experiencing right now is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming in the years ahead.  So what will the streets of America look like when things get really bad?

If you have never heard of “the knockout game” before, the following is how USA Today recently described it…

Dangerous “knockout” attacks on strangers are leading to arrests, more officers flooding the streets and more warnings for vigilance by an unsuspecting public.
 
Perpetrators have dubbed the violent practice as the “knockout game,” in which young people try to randomly knock out strangers with one punch.
 
Recent attacks in New York, New Haven, Conn., Washington, D.C. and suburban Philadelphia have raised concerns across the country.

Of course there are variations on the game.  Sometimes the goal is to knock out victims with a single punch, but in other instances entire groups of young thugs attack a victim and the goal is to see who can knock out the victim first.

Most of the time this game does not involve the theft of belongings, but in other cases it does.  For example, the following is how one teen described the game

“You just knock them out. You hit them with a blow and you take their belongings.”

Most of the time, the victims are males.

But this is not always true.

In fact, the Huffington Post recently reported on an incident in which a 78-year-old grandmother was attacked…

Earlier this month, CBS 2 reported on a series of attacks on Jews in Brooklyn, allegedly part of a disturbing game that has teens punching Jewish adults in an effort to try to knock them over.
 
Now it appears the action — dubbed the “knockout game” — has spread. Violent videos shot in other cities and in as many as six states, show teenagers knocking into other victims on purpose including, most recently, a 78-year-old grandmother in Brooklyn.
 
The victim’s daughter said she was walking along in broad daylight when a young African-American male knocked her down. He didn’t take anything, she said, and didn’t seem interested in anything but hitting her as hard as he could before running off.

Sometimes, the victims of “the knockout game” never get back up.  Last year, a 20-year-old college student in Minnesota was killed by a pack of thugs playing the knockout game.  You can see a video news report about that incident right here.

Knockout game deaths have also been reported in Syracuse, in St. Louis and in New Jersey.  In the case in New Jersey, the attackers left 46-year-old Ralph Santiago lodged between iron fence posts with a broken neck

One victim shown in the footage is a 46-year-old man from Hoboken, N.J., who was found dead with his neck broken and head lodged between iron fence posts, according to NJ.com.
 
Video surveillance shows Santiago walking in an alleyway in broad daylight, and just as he’s about to pass a pack of teenagers, one launches the fatal, knockout blow.
 
And what’s the point?
 
“For the fun of it,” one teen said in the video.

This is not just “harmless fun”.

People are actually dying.

Sadly, this is just one more sign that our society is starting to come apart at the seams.  Violent crime in America was up 15 percent last year, and an epidemic of very unusual crimes is sweeping the nation.

We are rapidly getting to the point where criminals are becoming so cold-hearted that they will go after just about anyone.  For example, in Stockton, California the other day some thugs held an entire youth soccer team at gunpoint with a shotgun…

It’s a soccer practice hold-up. Kids and the coach were victims of an armed robbery at a park in Stockton.
 
The team of 16 year olds was practicing on a tennis court when three other teens came up to them with a shotgun and demanded their stuff.
 
“This park is very dangerous. You can’t trust anyone anymore,” said James Griffin, a neighbor.
 
Stockton police say an entire team was held at gunpoint and robbed of their cell phones, keys and gym bags during practice.

All of this is happening at a time when police budgets are being deeply cut all over the nation.

If you do call the police, they might be able to help you.  There are still lots of good cops out there.

But if you get a bad cop, you might deeply regret ever picking up that telephone.

Just consider what happened to an innocent 19-year-old girl that was recently stopped by a member of the San Antonio Police Department

Officer Jackie Neal, 40, was in full uniform, in a marked squad car and on-duty when he made a traffic stop Friday morning and sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman, according to the San Antonio Police Department.
 
Police said Neal, an 11-year veteran with SAPD, pulled the victim over on the south side and managed to get the woman to stand behind his squad car. What happened next, San Antonio police Chief William McManus described as “unthinkable.”

In this day and age, it has become much more important for all of us to learn how to defend ourselves.  As the U.S. economy spirals downhill, people are going to become increasingly desperate.  And desperate people do desperate things.

The thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted on a daily basis is beginning to disappear.

Some Americans are choosing to fight back.

Just consider what happened in Seattle the other day…

Robert Moore was ringing-up a customer around 10 p.m. at the Morning Star Mini Mart, located in the 8800 block of 9th Ave SW, when two men entered the store wearing ski masks. One of the men stayed near the entrance of the store while the other attempted robber approached the counter and pointed a gun at Moore.
 
“This is a robbery,” Moore said the man told him.
 
Moore said the attempted robber’s gun didn’t look real.
 
“I looked at his gun and said ‘I have a bigger one than you do,’ ” he said.
 
Moore then turned to reach for his own gun and that’s when the attempted robbers took off in a white SUV with dark markings toward the rear of the driver’s side and a sun roof.

So how will you respond when the thugs come to your home or your business?

This article first appeared here at the The American Dream.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.



Image credit: http://endoftheamericandream.com
 

Growing Up In America — Paul Craig Roberts

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Source: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Growing Up In America

 

Things Are Bad And Getting Worse

Terrible things are happening faster than we can keep up with them. Monsanto, widely regarded as a criminal enterprise, is expanding its monopoly over seeds and food production into Chile and Latin America. http://rt.com/news/chile-protest-monsanto-law-634/ Monsanto has given up for now on monopolizing Europe’s agriculture, but has brought the EU around to allowing it to market GMO food products. Money speaks, which perhaps is the reason that Chile’s former president, Michelle Bachelet, introduced the pro-Monsanto legislation that one of the legislative chambers has passed. There are mass demonstrations in Chile against the legislation that destroys Chile’s sovereignty over its food production, but just as Monsanto can purchase the US government it also can purchase the Chilean government. In our day and time, governments are just another commodity to be bought and sold by powerful corporations.

And then there is Fukushima. Media have led us to think that this nuclear crisis is over,
but it appears that it is only beginning. The risk of apocalypse is high. You can read here http://rt.com/news/fukushima-apocalypse-fuel-removal-598/ one assessment of the risks to all of us. Here another http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/13/the-fukushima-nightmare-gets-worse/print And here another http://www.lewrockwell.com/2013/08/russia-today/chain-reaction-at-fukushima/ And another http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/10-0
And here http://www.globalresearch.ca/fukushima-japanese-government-big-business-and-corporate-media-tried-to-hide-a-grave-threat/5346197

As soon as Egypt gets a democracy with an elected president, Washington has the military, which is dependent on Washington for money and equipment, to overthrow the democracy, just as Washington does in Honduras and elsewhere. The Egyptian government that democracy produced was Islamist. The Muslim Brotherhood is moderate, not radical, but the moderate Islamists showed lack of enthusiasm for supporting the Washington-Israeli policy of genocide for Palestine. Washington finds “freedom and democracy” unacceptable when it does not support Washington’s foreign policy.

This fall Congress will again be confronted with the debt ceiling limit. To keep this specter at bay, the US Treasury has been employing questionable means. The crisis that has been kicked down the road is likely to worsen, because the economy is likely to renew its decline in ways that cannot be disguised by manipulated statistics. Sooner or later the world will realize that the US cannot pay its bills and that the world’s reserve currency is being ruthlessly printed in order to prop up busted banks and the US Treasury. The house of cards that US economic policy has constructed in the 21st century can collapse at any time.

Since so much that is distressing awaits us, I propose a bit of respite and in this column
take us back to happier times.

Growing Up In America
cars make a difference

It was 1955 when I came of driving age. What a glorious year on the automotive scene. The first V-8 engined Chevrolet appeared in the striking art work of the 1955 Bel Air hard top coupe. Often two-toned, usually pastels, this car, stock from the dealer, had the acceleration to match the souped up flathead V-8 Ford engines that were ensconced in the hot rods of the day.

The small block V-8 found its way into the Corvette, saving the Corvette from extinction.

Ford came out with its new overhead valve V-8, installed in the 1955 Thunderbird, still a show-stopper today. The Thunderbird existed as a two-seater for 3 years. The 1955 and 1956 Ford Fairlane hard top coup looked like it was doing sixty sitting still.

The dramatic styling and energetic engines appeared everywhere in Detroit’s lineup, in the Mercury, the Pontiac, Oldsmobile, the Buick Century. So many two-tones, acceleration times cut in half. Life was good.

Not to be outdone, Chrysler produced the 1955 Chrysler 300 with a 300 horsepower Hemi engine. This car was the high speed king, reaching 130 mph. In 1956 the 300 Hemi delivered 355 horsepower capable of 140 mph. By 1957 the 300 Hemi produced 390 horsepower, outrunning the Ferraris of the day.

Every style of every marque was distinctive. There was no mistaking one model for another. Driving on city streets and country highways was a feast for the eyes. Style and color were everywhere.

Even in those days driving occupied much of a person’s time. To be among striking designs and color combinations that excited the imagination was good for the psyche. We were a different people.

Decades ago a rare piece of fiction in Road & Track resulted in a premonition of the brutal and indistinguishable appearance of today’s SUVs and oversized pickup trucks.

It was the only piece of fiction, aside from a cartoon strip feature, that I recall ever appearing in R&T. The magazine is about road tests, car reports, and race results.

Perhaps the explanation for the fictional story is that a prescient car guy realized the brutal design implications of the looming car safety standards and wrote a story set in the future.

In the story, a man has a lovely sports car from the past that, unlike the mandated safety vehicles, is fun to drive, but he can no longer take it out during normal hours. Under federal safety mandates, vehicles had become massive hulks, brutal in appearance, and capable of smashing the cars of the past without injury to themselves or their drivers. Drivers of the safe machines patrol on the lookout for cars from an earlier, more elegant time. It was a sport to corner them and to crash into them, thus terminating their existence and removing the offense to the ugliness of the safe cars mandated by the government.

To avoid the demise of his car, he only took it out at 3:00 AM in order to avoid encounters with safe cars. But one early morning two of the hulks were waiting for him. The safe cars approached from both ends of the road, leaving him no way out. But the agility of his car and his skills as a driver permit his escape. Henceforth his enjoyment of his car is confined to visits in the garage and memories of past drives.

I don’t remember if the story was illustrated or whether the image of the SUV was created by the writer’s words, but years later when I saw the first SUV, now with names, such as Titan, to go with their brutal appearance, I instantly recalled the R&T story.

The young have no memory of the past. They cannot know how exciting automobiles once were. The excitement created by the explosion of styles, colors, and performance in 1955 is gone from the world. It was a 15-year experience, with the muscle cars of the 1960s keeping the thrill alive.

When the Jaguar E-Type appeared in 1961, no one could believe that such an extraordinarily beautiful and fast car could be had for $5,000. Enzo Ferrari, the master car-maker of all time, declared the E-Type to be the most beautiful car in the world. One sits in permanent exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Who could imagine a SUV being there, or an over-sized pick-up truck? If we had called for our Saturday night dates in such vehicles, our dates would have been mortified and would have refused to come out of the house.

Anyone who has sat in the driver’s seat of an E-Type, the first modern car with all independent suspension and 4-wheel disc brakes, looking over the long and louvered bonnet (hood), and starting the powerful engine with its Jaguar growl finds today’s vehicles utterly depressing.

Another extraordinary design of the era was the Lamborghini Miura. It came 5 years after the E-Type and was an equal show-stopper.

Today if you have a quarter of a million dollars to spend on a car, you can purchase cars that can outperform these icons of the 1960s. But if you drive up in your Audi A-8, your AMG Mercedes, your Porsche turbo, your Ferrari Italia, the audience will flock to the E-Type and to the Miura. Style, when it was not dictated by Washington, was brilliant. There will never again be anything like it.

Today cars from the fifties and sixties, including the 1954 Oldsmobile Super 88 coupe, if in reasonable condition, are more valuable than most new cars. A good Miura goes for $1 million. A Series 1 E-Type, produced in much larger numbers than the Miura, goes for $125,000 if in good condition. I have a friend who in the mid-1960s bought and sold for $9,000 a Ferrari 250 GTO. This Ferrari, an aggressive and beautiful take-off on the elegant E-Type, won the world championship for three years in the early 1960s. There were only about 36 of them produced. One sold recently for $35 million. Try to imagine, short of dollar hyperinflation, any vehicle of our time ever fetching $35 million as a used car.

Seeing a car, rather than a SUV or monster pick-up truck, is becoming a rare event. Recently, I made a count on a stretch of Interstate highway, and 75% of the traffic consisted of SUVs and over-sized pick-up trucks. Americans want to appear brutal like their vehicles, and their police, and their governments.

SUVs were an unintended consequence of federally mandated fleet gas milage standards. Auto makers complied with the mandate by eliminating station wagons. People looking for station wagon replacement settled on delivery vans and panel trucks. These vehicles, classified as light trucks, were exempt from the gas milage standards, and the SUV was born.

The unintended consequence of safety standards is to take beauty out of almost all vehicles. How many attractive vehicles do you see today? I recently made a 370 mile trip and saw one car worthy of notice. It was a $300,000 600HP Bentley coupe, a rare and unusual car. When I came of driving age, beautiful and colorful cars emitting wonderful sounds were everywhere. We were surrounded by them. They were Chevrolets and Fords. They weren’t for the mega-rich. The working class could afford them.

Think about this for a minute. People spend much of their lives in passenger vehicles. They commute to work and back to home. They travel to shop. They travel to vacation destinations. They take children to school and back to home. All of this time that they spend in vehicles they never see anything beautiful or artistic unless some unusual remnant from the past or a rare modern day supercar, whose cost exceeds their lifetime earnings, happens by.

This was not true in my day. We were surrounded by color, style, and attractive designs. Literally everyone could afford it. The epitome of style was the two-door hard top coupe. Such a vehicle would cost, perhaps, $400 more than the base model that lacked the elegant touches.

Today, in our brutalized transportation existence, in which no make or model can be identified from any other and in which a two-tone paint job doesn’t exist, anyone with a collection of 1950s and 1960s two-door hard top coupes is a wealthy person not merely in money but also in spirit.

Today a person with a beautiful car from the past does not yet have to worry about being chased down and destroyed by a modern safe-car hulk, but he has to worry about where he parks it. Beauty and style elevate. Ugliness uglifies. People who drive barbarian cars can themselves become barbarians.

Terrible things happened in the 1950s and 1960s. McCarthyism got loose for a short period. President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby were murdered, as was Martin Luther King, perhaps by their own government. The reliance on fear to keep the profitable cold war going and the elimination of those who would change course are antecedents of the present. We still suffer from them.

The difference is that then enough Americans had a frame of mind that had space for the optimism that permitted blacks to be legislated into full citizenship and for the protests that brought to an end the military/security complex’s profitable aggression in Vietnam.

Perhaps elegant cars had a civilizing influence and contributed to that frame of mind. Get Washington out of car design. It might help to restore our humanity from the brutality that surrounds us.

Reprinted with permission from www.paulcraigroberts.org


 

About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

Newly Discovered Eighth Grade Exam From 1912 Shows How Dumbed Down America Has Become

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Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com

By Michael Snyder

Newly Discovered Eighth Grade Exam From 1912 Shows How Dumbed Down America Has Become

 

1914-Schoolhouse-300x225Have you ever seen the movie “Idiocracy”?  It is a movie about an “average American” that wakes up 500 years in the future only to discover that he is the most intelligent person by far in the “dumbed down” society that is surrounding him.  Unfortunately, that film is a very accurate metaphor for what has happened to American society today.  We have become so “dumbed down” that we don’t even realize what has happened to us.  But once in a while something comes along that reminds us of how far we have fallen.  In Kentucky, an eighth grade exam from 1912 was recently donated to the Bullitt County History Museum.  When I read this exam over, I was shocked at how difficult it was.

Could most eighth grade students pass such an exam today?  Of course not.  In fact, I don’t even think that I could pass it.  Sadly, this is even more evidence of “the deliberate dumbing down of America” that former Department of Education official Charlotte Iserbyt is constantly warning us about.  The American people are not nearly as mentally sharp as they once were, and with each passing generation it gets even worse.

Just check out some of the questions from the eighth grade exam that was discovered.  Do you think that you could correctly answer these?…

-Through which waters would a vessel pass in going from England through the Suez Canal to Manila?

-How does the liver compare in size with other glands in the human body?

-How long of a rope is required to reach from the top of a building 40 feet high to the ground 30 feet from the base of a building?

-Compare arteries and veins as to function. Where is the blood carried to be purified?

-During which wars were the following battles fought: Brandywine, Great Meadows, Lundy’s Lane, Antietam, Buena Vista?

A copy of the exam is posted below.  Today, it would be a real challenge for many college students to correctly answer most of these questions correctly…

Eighth-Grade-Exam

If you would like to know what the correct answers to these questions are, you can find them right here.

One of the areas that Americans are horribly deficient in today is geography.  If you give them a blank world map, most Americans can only identify a very limited number of countries.  In fact, according to a survey that was conducted by the National Geographic Society several years ago, only 37 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 could find the nation of Iraq on a map of the world even though the United States was actively fighting a war there at the time.

Our young people are also horribly deficient when it comes to math and science.  At this point, 15-year-olds in the United States do not even rank in the top half of all industrialized nations when it comes to math and science literacy.

How do we expect to thrive as a nation with these kinds of results?

In a previous article entitled “Dumb As A Rock: You Will Be Absolutely Amazed At The Things That U.S. High School Students Do Not Know“, I discussed some more survey results that show how dumb our high school students have become…

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

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

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

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

Even more shocking were the results of a survey of Oklahoma high school students conducted back in 2009.  The following is a list of the questions that were asked and the percentage of students that answered correctly….

What is the supreme law of the land? 28 percent

What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution? 26 percent

What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress? 27 percent

How many justices are there on the Supreme Court? 10 percent

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? 14 percent

What ocean is on the east coast of the United States? 61 percent

What are the two major political parties in the United States? 43 percent

We elect a U.S. senator for how many years? 11 percent

Who was the first President of the United States? 23 percent

Who is in charge of the executive branch? 29 percent

So why is this happening?

Well, for one thing, our system of public education is a complete and total joke.  We have millions of kids “graduating from high school” that can barely read, that have almost no ability to speak in public, that cannot write a decent essay and that cannot balance a checkbook.

It also doesn’t help that Americans (especially young Americans) are absolutely addicted to entertainment.  Americans spend an average of 153 hours watching television each month, and when we aren’t watching television we are watching movies, playing video games, surfing the Internet, etc.

When is the last time that you saw a young person actually reading a book that was not required for school?  Yes, it does happen once in a while, but it is so rare that it is kind of startling when you spot it happening.

But it is not just our young people that have been “dumbed down”.  Even our presidents have been “dumbed down”.  If you doubt this, just check out this amazing graphic which shows how the reading level of State of the Union addresses has steadily declined since the beginning of our nation.

Personally, I have an awareness that I should be able to think much more clearly than I am able to right now.  I can feel the effect that our society has had on my own mental abilities, and it frustrates me.

A lot has been written about the decline of our health here in America, but very little gets written about our mental decline.  That is a shame, because our ability to think clearly and rationally is so very critical to our future.

So what do you think about all of this?

Do you agree that America has been “dumbed down”?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment here

Im-With-Stupid-460x460

Image credit: http://endoftheamericandream.com

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