Posts tagged debt

No Incumbents – 14 Candidates will defend Blount County

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May 6th is the date. Tired of the Blount County Commission supporting special interests and the status quo at the expense of taxpayers? Then let your voice be heard by voting for Blount County’s future by supporting fiscally responsible representation.

Source: http://www.bcpublicrecord.com

No Incumbents – 14 Candidates will defend Blount County

 

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18 Stats That Prove That Government Dependence Has Reached Epidemic Levels

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Source: http://endoftheamericandream.com

By Michael Snyder

18 Stats That Prove That Government Dependence Has Reached Epidemic Levels

 

Did you know that the number of Americans getting benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million?  In other words, the number of people that are taking money out of the system is far greater than the number of people that are putting money into the system.  And did you know that nearly 70 percent of all of the money that the federal government spends goes toward entitlement and welfare programs?  When it comes to the transfer of wealth, nobody does it on a grander scale than the U.S. government.  Most of what the government does involves taking money from some people and giving it to other people.  In fact, at this point that is the primary function of the federal government.

Just check out the chart below.  It comes from the Heritage Foundation, and it shows that 69 percent of all federal money is spent either on entitlements or on welfare programs…

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So when people tell you that the main reason why we are being taxed into oblivion is so that we can “build roads” and provide “public services”, they are lying to you.  The main reason why the government taxes you so much is so that they can take your money and give it to someone else.

We have become a nation that is completely and totally addicted to government money.  The following are 18 stats that prove that government dependence has reached epidemic levels…

#1 According to an analysis of U.S. government numbers conducted by Terrence P. Jeffrey, there are 86 million full-time private sector workers in the United States paying taxes to support the government, and nearly 148 million Americans that are receiving benefits from the government each month.  How long can such a lopsided system possibly continue?

#2 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

#3 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

#4 Today, the federal government runs about 80 different “means-tested welfare programs”, and almost all of those programs have experienced substantial growth in recent years.

#5 Back in 1960, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 10 percent.  In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.

#6 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the total number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to nearly 47 million.

#7 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#8 It sounds crazy, but the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of the nation of Spain.

#9 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps is now greater than the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#10 According to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, 43 percent of all immigrants that have been in the United States for at least 20 years are still on welfare.

#11 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#12 The number of Americans on Medicare is projected to grow from a little bit more than 50 million today to 73.2 million in 2025.

#13 Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#14 If the number of Americans enrolled in the Social Security disability program were gathered into a single state, it would be the 8th largest state in the entire country.

#15 In 1968, there were 51 full-time workers for every American on disability.  Today, there are just 13 full-time workers for every American on disability.

#16 It is being projected that the number of Americans on Social Security will rise from about 62 million today to more than 100 million in 25 years.

#17 Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

#18 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

Many will read this and will assume that I am against helping the poor.  That is completely and totally not true.  There will always be people that are impoverished, and this happens for many reasons.  In many cases, people simply lack the capacity to take care of themselves.  It is a good thing to take care of such people, whether the money comes from public or private sources.  In every society, those that are the most vulnerable need to be looked after.

But it is a very troubling sign that the number of people on government assistance is now far, far greater than the number of people with full-time jobs.  This is not a sustainable situation.  The federal government is already drowning in debt, and yet more people become dependent on the government with each passing day.

The long-term solution is to get more Americans working or starting their own businesses, but the federal government continues to pursue policies that are absolutely killing the creation of jobs and the creation of small businesses in this country.  So our epidemic of government dependence is going to continue to get worse.

And many of these programs are absolutely riddled with fraud and corruption.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Natural News article

To understand the extent of this fraudulent waste, go no further than Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who raked in $20.8 million from Medicare in 2012 alone. Dr. Melgen isn’t the only one bathing in the fraud of this crony government program. Medicare dished out over $1 million to almost 4,000 doctors in 2012, according to the new data release analyzed by The Washington Post.
 
Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is calling on the public for help in identifying fraud. He says, “The program is funded by and large by taxpayer dollars. The public has a right to know what it is paying for. We know there is fraud in the system. We are asking for the public’s help to check, to find waste, and to find potential fraud.”

Instead of fixing their own problems, they want us to help them do it.

Just great.

And of course they always want more of our money to help fund these programs.  In fact, according to Americans for Tax Reform, Barack Obama has proposed 442 tax increases since entering the White House…

-79 tax increases for FY 2010
-52 tax increases for FY 2011
-47 tax increases for FY 2012
-34 tax increases for FY 2013
-137 tax increases for FY 2014
-93 tax increases for FY 2015
 
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Obama budget with the lowest number of proposed tax increases was released during an election year: In February 2012, Obama released his FY 2013 budget, with “only” 34 proposed tax increases. Once safely re-elected, Obama came back with a vengeance, proposing 137 tax increases, a personal record high for the 44th President.

The more we feed the monster, the larger and larger it grows.

And yet poverty is not decreasing.  In fact, the poverty rate has been at 15 percent or greater for three years in a row.  That is the first time that has happened in decades.

Barack Obama promised to “transform” America, and yet poverty and government dependence have just continued to grow during his presidency.

Not that anyone really believes anything that he has to say at this point.  In fact, one recent survey found that only 15 percent of Americans believe that Barack Obama always tells the truth and 37 percent believe that he lies “most of the time”…

A Fox News poll released Wednesday shows that six out of every ten Americans believes that President Barack Obama lies to the American people, at least some of the time. A plurality – 37% – say that he lies “most of the time,” while another 24% say he lies “some of the time.” Another 20% say he lies once in awhile, while only 15% say that he never lies.

So what do you think?

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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Inside The Fed – What Janet Yellen Won’t Tell You

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Inside The Fed – What Janet Yellen Won’t Tell You

 

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What is Janet Yellen, new Fed chairman, really worried about?

 

Is it that reported unemployment will stay high, that the economic recovery will never get off the ground, that we will fall back into recession, or that consumer prices will fall, thereby further endangering the huge debts that already zombify the economy? These are big concerns, no doubt, but not her largest worry. Her largest worry has to be that foreigners will stop buying U.S. bonds.

This is far from a needless worry. Recent events, events of just the past few months and weeks, including the Russian invasion of Crimea, make it even more of a threat to the U.S. government. But, first, some background.

Foreign individuals and businesses cut back on their purchases of U.S. bonds years ago. Their place was taken by foreign central banks. The central banks simply created money in their own currency and used it to buy our bonds.

Why did they do this? The Japanese may have done this because they rely on us for defense and want to help support our economy. But most of the central banks did it to keep their own currencies from appreciating against the dollar.

The more dollars they bought, the less their own currencies appreciated against the dollar. In this way, they kept their export prices down and protected their export related jobs.

This was not unlike the trade wars of the 1930’s, conducted with tariffs, but this time the trade wars were conducted with currency manipulations.

The Federal Reserve always knew that we couldn’t rely on foreign central banks to buy our bonds forever. That is probably the main reason it began the program called quantitative easing, in which the Fed created money out of thin air specifically to buy back U.S. debt.

Quantitative easing was a kind of insurance policy. If foreign central bank buying of U.S. bonds collapsed, the Fed would already have a program in place to buy them back itself.

The Fed always said that quantitative easing was meant to create U.S. jobs. But this never made much sense. Even a hard core proponent of QE, Fed official William Dudley ( formerly of Goldman Sachs), admitted that the Fed’s own economic models could not explain how creating money out of thin air and using it to buy U.S. bonds would increase employment. Some link to rising stock prices could be demonstrated, but then rising stock prices could not be shown to create jobs either.

One inference from this was that chairman Ben Bernanke, and now new chairman Janet Yellen, were just taking wild stabs in the dark. A more reasonable inference is that they had another reason for QE, one which they did not want to acknowledge.

Viewed in this way, it becomes clear that the 2008 bail-out was not so much a bail-out of Wall Street as a bail-out of Washington. The Federal Reserve feared that the market for government bonds was about to collapse, which would lead to soaring interest rates, and a complete collapse of our bubble financed government.

The Fed did not have the option of creating money and buying debt directly from the Treasury. That would be illegal. The Treasury must first sell its bonds to Wall Street, after which the Fed can then use its newly created money to buy them back. Hence, in order to rescue the Treasury, the Fed felt it had to rescue Wall Street.

This is a simplification of what happened, and only part of the story, but it is the untold part of the story, and in all likelihood the most important part. The Fed was in a panic in 2008, but not primarily about what might happen to Wall Street, and certainly not about what might happen to Main Street. It was in a panic over what might happen to government finance.

This interpretation is strengthened by new information contained in former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson’s recent book. He revealed that Russia tried in 2008 to persuade China to join in a collaborative effort to dump U.S. bonds in order to bring down the U.S. financial system. Although China refused to do so at the time, it is clear that China regards us as a geo-political foe, would like to end dollar dominance, and has itself been paring U.S. bond purchases.

The end result of the Fed’s panic during the Crash was over $3 trillion worth of Fed purchases of U.S. or what became U.S. backed bonds. In only a few years, the Fed became the largest single owner of U.S. bonds, even larger than Japan or China. The total U.S. debt held by the Fed today equals the entire U.S. debt at the end of the Clinton administration. It is of course completely nonsensical that the U.S. government is borrowing such large sums from itself.

At the moment, Janet Yellen’s worries about finding buyers of government bonds can only be getting worse. For much of last year, foreign central bank purchases of U.S. bonds fell. As of October of 2013, they had been negative for three and six months. Then they turned up a smidge, only to fall again, so that the last three months show a decrease of over 5%.

It is known that Russia has withdrawn its U.S. bonds from custody of the Fed after the Crimea invasion, and has either been selling or could sell at any time. It will no doubt try again to persuade other countries to join in undermining the U.S. bond market and replacing the dollar as the mainstay of world trade.

Under these circumstances, it should not be surprising that the Fed is today taking only baby steps to reduce its program of creating new money to buy U.S. bonds. This program is not just meant to revive the economy, which it has not done and cannot do. It is more likely designed as a desperate and in the long run counterproductive effort to finance the U.S. government and save today’s dollar dominated financial system.

Most recent book by Hunter Lewis:

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is co-founder and former CEO of global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC and author of 8 books on moral philosophy, psychology, and economics, including the widely acclaimed Are the Rich Necessary? (“Highly provocative and highly pleasurable.”—New York Times) He has contributed to the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washing­ton Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as numerous websites such as Breitbart.com, Forbes.com, Fox.com, and RealClearMarkets.com. His most recent books are Crony Capitalism in America: 2008–2012, Free Prices Now! Fixing the Economy by Abolishing the Fed, and Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen leading not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural and global development organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

Peter Schiff ~ Meet “Lowflation”: Deflation’s Scary Pal

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Source: http://www.europac.net

By Peter Schiff

Friday, April 4, 2014

Meet “Lowflation”: Deflation’s Scary Pal

 

Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital

In recent years a good part of the monetary debate has become a simple war of words, with much of the conflict focused on the definition for the word “inflation.” Whereas economists up until the 1960′s or 1970′s mostly defined inflation as an expansion of the money supply, the vast majority now see it as simply rising prices. Since then the “experts” have gone further and devised variations on the word “inflation” (such as “deflation,” “disinflation,” and “stagflation”). And while past central banking policy usually focused on “inflation fighting,” now bankers talk about “inflation ceilings” and more recently “inflation targets”.  The latest front in this campaign came this week when Bloomberg News unveiled a brand new word: “lowflation” which it defines as a situation where prices are rising, but not fast enough to offer the economic benefits that are apparently delivered by higher inflation. Although the article was printed on April Fool’s Day, sadly I do not believe it was meant as a joke.

Up until now, the inflation advocates have focused their arguments almost exclusively on the apparent dangers of “deflation,” which they define as falling prices. Despite reams of evidence that show how an economy can thrive when prices fall, there is now a nearly universal belief that deflation is an economic poison that works its mischief by convincing consumers to delay purchases. For example, in a scenario of 1% deflation, a consumer who wants a $1,000 refrigerator will postpone her purchase if she expects it will cost only $990 in a year. Presumably she will just make do with her old fridge, or simply refrain from buying perishable items for a year to lock in that $10 savings. If she expects the cost of the refrigerator to decline another 1% in the following year, the purchase will be again put off. If deflation persists indefinitely they argue that she will put off the purchase indefinitely, perhaps living exclusively on dried foods while waiting for refrigerator prices to hit zero.

Economists extrapolate this to conclude that deflation will destroy aggregate demand and force the economy into recession. Despite the absurdity of this argument (people actually tend to buy more when prices fall), at least there is a phantom bogeyman for which to conjure phony terror. Low inflation (below 2%) is even harder to demonize. Few have argued that it has the same demand killing dynamics as deflation, but many say that it should be avoided simply because it is too close to deflation. Given their feeling that even a brief bout of minor deflation could lead to a catastrophic negative spiral, they argue for a prudent buffer of 2% inflation or more. But the writer of the Bloomberg piece, the London-based Simon Kennedy, quotes people in high positions in the financial establishment who offer new arguments as to why “lowflation” (as he calls it) is a “threat” in and of itself. And although the article was primarily concerned with Europe, you can be sure that these arguments will be applied soon to the situation in the United States.

The piece correctly notes that those struggling with high debt tend to welcome high rates of inflation. The math is simple. By diminishing the value of money, inflation benefits borrowers at the expense of lenders. By repaying with money of lesser value, the borrowers partially default, even when paying in full. The biggest borrowers in Europe (and the United States for that matter) are heavily indebted governments and the overly leveraged financial sector. Should it come as a surprise that they are the leading advocates for inflation? The writer admits that higher inflation will help these interests manage their debt burdens and in the case of the financial sector, profit from the increased lending that low interest rates and quantitative easing encourage.

On the other side of the ledger are the consumers, the savers, and the retirees. These groups want lower prices and higher rates of interest on their accumulated capital. Such a combination will lead to higher living standards for those who have worked and saved for many years in order to enjoy the fruits of their efforts. But these types of people are simply not on the “must call” list for our best and brightest economic journalists. As a result, we only get one side of the story.

The article also points out that higher inflation gives businesses more flexibility to retain workers in periods of weak growth. The argument is that if sales revenue falls, companies will not be able to lower wages, and will instead resort to layoffs to maintain their profitability. However, this is only true in cases involving labor union contracts or minimum wage workers. In all other cases, business could reduce wages in lieu of layoffs. Plus, if prices for consumer goods are also falling, real wages may not even decline as a result of the cuts.

In circumstances where wages cannot be legally reduced, as is the case for unionized or minimum wage workers, layoffs are often the employer’s only option for keeping costs in line with revenue. However, inflation allows employers to do an end run around these obstacles. In an inflationary environment, rising prices compensate for falling sales. The added revenue allows employers to hold nominal wage costs steady, even when the raw amount of goods or services they sell declines. When inflation rages, higher skilled workers will often demand, and receive, pay raises. But low-skilled workers, who lack such leverage, are usually left holding the bag.

In other words, politicians can impose a high minimum wage to pander to voters, but then count on inflation to lower real labor costs, thereby limiting the unemployment that would otherwise result. So what the government openly gives with one hand, it secretly takes away with the other. Workers vote for politicians who promise higher wages, but those same politicians also create the inflation that negates the real value of the increase. But while government takes the credit for the former, it never assumes responsibility for the latter. The same analysis applies to labor unions. Based upon political protection offered by friendly officials, unions can secure unrealistic pay hikes for their members. But the same governments then work to reduce the real value of those increases to keep their employers in business.

Of course, what the Bloomberg writer was really arguing is that governments need inflation to bail themselves out of the policy mistakes they make to secure votes. But two wrongs never make a right. The correct policy would be to run balanced budgets rather than incur debts that can only be repaid with the help of inflation. On the labor front, the better policy would be to abolish the minimum wage and the special legal protections offered to labor unions, rather than papering over the adverse consequences of bad policies with inflation.

So be on the lookout for any more hand-wringing over the supposed dangers of lowflation. The noise will simply be an effort to convince you that what’s bad for you is actually good. And although it’s an audacious piece of propaganda to even attempt, the lack of critical awareness in the media gives it a fighting chance for success.

Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, best-selling author and host of syndicated Peter Schiff Show.

Order your copy of Peter Schiff’s latest book, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes.

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

 

Is College A Waste Of Time And Money?

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

Is College A Waste Of Time And Money?

 

Graduation-300x300Are you thinking of going to college?  If so, please consider that decision very carefully.  You probably have lots of people telling you that an “education” is the key to your future and that you will never be able to get a “good job” unless you go to college.  And it is true that those that go to college do earn more on average than those that do not.  However, there is also a downside.  At most U.S. colleges, the quality of the education that you will receive is a joke, the goal of most colleges is to extract as much money from you and your parents as they possibly can, and there is a very good chance that there will not be a “good job” waiting for you once you graduate.  And unless you have someone that is willing to pay your tuition bills, you will probably be facing a lifetime of crippling student loan debt payments once you get out into the real world.  So is college a waste of time and money?  In the end, it really pays to listen to both sides of the debate.

Personally, I spent eight years at U.S. public universities, and I really enjoyed those times.

But would I trade my degrees today for the time and money that I spent to get them?

Absolutely.

Right now, Americans owe more than a trillion dollars on their student loans, and more than 124 billion dollars of that total is more than 90 days delinquent.

It is a student loan debt bubble unlike anything that we have ever seen before, and now even those that make their living from this system are urging reform.  For example, consider what a law professor at the University of Tennessee recently wrote for the Wall Street Journal…

In the field of higher education, reality is outrunning parody. A recent feature on the satire website the Onion proclaimed, “30-Year-Old Has Earned $11 More Than He Would Have Without College Education.” Allowing for tuition, interest on student loans, and four years of foregone income while in school, the fictional student “Patrick Moorhouse” wasn’t much better off. His years of stress and study, the article japed, “have been more or less a financial wash.”
 
“Patrick” shouldn’t feel too bad. Many college graduates would be happy to be $11 ahead instead of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, behind. The credit-driven higher education bubble of the past several decades has left legions of students deep in debt without improving their job prospects. To make college a good value again, today’s parents and students need to be skeptical, frugal and demanding.

When a lot of young Americans graduate from college and can’t find a decent job, they are told that if they really want to “be successful” that what they really need is a graduate degree.

That means more years of education, and in most cases, even more debt.

But by the time many of these young achievers get through college and graduate school, the debt loads can be absolutely overwhelming

The typical debt load of borrowers leaving school with a master’s, medical, law or doctoral degree jumped an inflation-adjusted 43% between 2004 and 2012, according to a new report by the New America Foundation, a left-leaning Washington think tank. That translated into a median debt load—the point at which half of borrowers owed more and half owed less—of $57,600 in 2012.
 
The increases were sharper for those pursuing advanced degrees in the social sciences and humanities, versus professional degrees such as M.B.A.s or medical degrees that tend to yield greater long-term returns. The typical debt load of those earning a master’s in education showed some of the largest increases, rising 66% to $50,879. It climbed 54% to $58,539 for those earning a master of arts.

In particular, many are questioning the value of a law school education these days.  Law schools are aggressively recruiting students even though they know that there are way, way too many lawyers already.  There is no way that the legal field can produce enough jobs for the huge flood of new law school graduates that are hitting the streets each year.

The criticism has become so harsh that even mainstream news outlets are writing about this.  For instance, the following comes from a recent CNN article

For the past three years, the media has picked up the attacks with relish. The New York Times, in an article on a graduate with $250,000 in loans, put it this way: “Is Law School a Losing Game?” Referring to the graduate, the Times wrote“His secret, if that’s the right word, is to pretty much ignore all the calls and letters that he receives every day from the dozen or so creditors now hounding him for cash,” writes the author.  Or consider this blunt headline from a recent Business Insider article: “‘I Consider Law School A Waste Of My Life And An Extraordinary Waste Of Money.’” Even though the graduate profiled in the piece had a degree from a Top 20 law school, he’s now bitterly mired in debt. “Because I went to law school, I don’t see myself having a family, earning a comfortable wage, or having an enjoyable lifestyle,” he writes. “I wouldn’t wish my law school experience on my enemy.”

In America today, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loan debt, and the average debt level has been steadily rising.  In fact, one study found that “70 percent of the class of 2013 is graduating with college-related debt – averaging $35,200 – including federal, state and private loans, as well as debt owed to family and accumulated through credit cards.”

That would be bad enough if most of these students were getting decent jobs that enabled them to service that debt.

But unfortunately, that is often not the case.  It has been estimated that about half of all recent college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.

Could you imagine that?

Could you imagine investing four or five years and tens of thousands of dollars in a college degree and then working a job that does not even require a degree?

And the really sick thing is that the quality of the education that most college students are receiving is quite pathetic.

Recently, a film crew went down to American University and asked students some really basic questions about our country.  The results were absolutely stunning

When asked if they could name a SINGLE U.S. senator, the students blanked. Also, very few knew that each state has two senators. The guesses were all over the map, with some crediting each state with twelve, thirteen, and five senators.

I have posted the YouTube video below.  How in the world is it possible that college students in America cannot name a single U.S. senator?…

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These are the leaders of tomorrow?

That is a frightening thought.

If parents only knew what their children were being taught at college, in most instances they would be absolutely horrified.

The following is a list of actual college courses that have been taught at U.S. colleges in recent years…

-”What If Harry Potter Is Real?

-”Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame

-”Philosophy And Star Trek

-”Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond

-”Learning From YouTube

-”How To Watch Television

-”Sport For The Spectator

-”Oh, Look, a Chicken!

That last one is my favorite.

The truth is that many of these colleges don’t really care if  your sons and daughters learn much at all.  They just want the money to keep rolling in.

And our college students are discovering that when they do graduate that they are woefully unprepared for life on the outside.  In fact, one survey found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in college.

In America today, there are more than 300,000 waitresses that have college degrees, and close to three out of every ten adults in the United States under the age of 35 are still living at home with Mom and Dad.

Our system of higher education is not working, and it is crippling an entire generation of Americans.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that college is a waste of time and money?

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

 

Debt and Taxes

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Source: http://www.europac.net

By Peter Schiff

Debt and Taxes

 

Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital

The red flags contained in the national and global headlines that have come out thus far in 2014 should have spooked investors and economic forecasters. Instead the markets have barely noticed. It seems that the majority opinion on Wall Street and Washington is that we have entered an era of good fortune made possible by the benevolent hand of the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke and now Janet Yellen have apparently removed all the economic rough edges that would normally draw blood. As a result of this monetary “baby-proofing,” a strong economy is no longer considered necessary for rising stock and real estate prices.

But unfortunately, everything has a price, even free money. Our current quest to push up asset prices at all costs will come back to bite all Americans squarely in the pocket book. Death and taxes have long been linked by a popular maxim. However, there also exists a similar link between debt and taxes. The debt we are now incurring in order to buttress current stock and real estate will inevitably lead to higher taxes down the road. However, don’t expect the taxes to arrive in their traditional garb. Instead, the stealth tax of inflation will be used to drain Americans of their hard earned purchasing power.

I explore this connection in great length in my latest report Taxed By Debt, available for free download at www.taxedbydebt.com. But diagnosing a problem is just half the battle. I also present investing strategies that I believe can help Americans avoid the traps that are now being laid so carefully.

The last few years have proven that there is no line Washington will not cross in order to keep bubbles from popping. Just 10 years ago many of the analysts now crowing about the perfect conditions would have been appalled by policies that have been implemented to create them. The Fed has held interest rates at zero for five consecutive years, it has purchased trillions of dollars of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, and the Federal government has stimulated the economy through four consecutive trillion-dollar annual deficits. While these moves may once have been looked on as something shocking…now anything goes.

But the new monetary morality has nothing to do with virtue, and everything to do with necessity. It is no accident that the concept of “inflation” has experienced a dramatic makeover during the past few years. Traditionally, mainstream discussion treated inflation as a pestilence best vanquished by a strong economy and prudent bankers. Now it is widely seen as a pre-condition to economic health. Economists are making this bizarre argument not because it makes any sense, but because they have no other choice.

America is trying to borrow its way out of recession. We are creating debt now in order to push up prices and create the illusion of prosperity. To do this you must convince people that inflation is a good thing…even while they instinctively prefer low prices to high. But rising asset prices do little to help the underlying economy. That is why we have been stuck in what some economists are calling a “jobless recovery.” The real reason it’s jobless is because it’s not a real recovery!  So while the current booms in stocks and condominiums have been gifts to financial speculators and the corporate elite, average Americans can only watch from the sidewalks as the parade passes them by. That’s why sales of Mercedes and Maseratis are setting record highs while Fords and Chevrolets sit on showroom floors. Rising prices to do not create jobs, increase savings or expand production. Instead all we get is debt, which at some point in the future must be repaid.

As detailed in my special report, when President Obama took office at the end of 2008, the national debt was about $10 trillion. Just five years later it has surpassed a staggering $17.5 trillion. This raw increase is roughly equivalent to all the Federal debt accumulated from the birth of our republic to 2004! The defenders of this debt explosion tell us that the growth eventually sparked by this stimulus will allow the U.S. to repay comfortably. Talk about waiting for Godot. To actually repay, we will have few options. We can cut government spending, raise taxes, borrow, or print. But as we have seen so often in recent years, neither political party has the will to either increase taxes or decrease spending.

So if cutting and taxing are off the table, we can expect borrowing and printing. That is exactly what has been happening. In recent years, the Fed has bought approximately 60% of the debt issued by the Treasury. This has kept the bond market strong and interest rates extremely low. But a country can’t buy its own debt with impunity indefinitely. In fact the Fed, by winding down its QE program by the end of 2014, has threatened to bring the party to an end.

Although bond yields remain close to record low territory, thanks to continued QE buying, we have seen vividly in recent years how the markets react negatively to any hint of higher rates. That’s why any indication that the Fed will lift rates from zero can be enough to plunge the markets into the red. The biggest market reaction to Yellen’s press conference this week came when the Chairwoman seemed to fix early 2015 as the time in which rates could be lifted from zero. That possibility slapped the markets like a frigid polar wind.

Janet Yellen may talk about tightening someday, but she will continue to move the goalposts to avoid actually having to do so. (Or as she did this week, remove the goalposts altogether). As global investors finally realize that the Fed has no credible exit strategy from its zero interest policy, they will fashion their own exit strategy from U.S. obligations. Should this happen, interest rates will spike, the dollar will plunge, and inflation’s impact on consumer prices will be far more pronounced than it is today. This is when the inflation tax will take a much larger bite out of our savings and paychecks.  The debt that sustains us now will one day be our undoing.

But there are steps investors can take to help mitigate the damage, particularly by moving assets to those areas of the world that are not making the same mistakes that we are. In my new report, I describe many of these markets. Just because the majority of investors seem to be swallowing the snake oil being peddled doesn’t mean it’s wise to join the party. I urge you to download my report and decide for yourself.

Peter Schiff is the CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, best-selling author and host of syndicated Peter Schiff Show.

Order your copy of Peter Schiff’s latest book, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes.

The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

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The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

 

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Published by Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux speaks with legendary investor Jim Rogers about the future of the world economy, the coming economic shift and how to prepare for the future.

Jim Rogers is an American businessman, investor and author. He is currently based in Singapore. Rogers is the Chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.

You can get “Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets” and other books by Jim Rogers at http://www.fdrurl.com/jimrogers

Get more from Stefan Molyneux and Freedomain Radio including books, podcasts and other info at: http://www.freedomainradio.com

 

Potent Propaganda: The College Debt Bubble Is Set to Explode (Micro Documentary)

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Source: http://www.shtfplan.com

By Mac Slavo

Potent Propaganda: The College Debt Bubble Is Set to Explode (Micro Documentary)

 

 

This month President Obama issued a directive that will penalize “for-profit” trade schools because students are amassing huge levels of debt they can’t pay off. According to the President and the Department of Education these specialty training schools promise to train students and prepare them for a career in everything from computer design to personal training. But when graduates get out of school they often lack the skills necessary to land the high paying jobs they were promised, leaving many without the income to service their loans.

The proposed regulations would penalize career oriented programs that produce graduates without the training needed to find a job with a salary that will allow them to pay off their debt. Schools, for-profit or not, that don’t comply would lose access to the federal student aid programs.
 
“Today, too many of these programs fail to provide students with the training that they need at taxpayers’ expense and the cost to these students’ futures.”

What President Obama won’t tell you is that it’s not just trade schools that promise young and optimistic high school graduates a future full of big money and easy living. And though most universities claim they are non-profit pedagogic institutions whose goal is to serve and mold young minds for the future, the fact is that there is a ton of money to be made by everyone involved including teachers, administrators, banks and periphery industries that service colleges.

According to a new documentary from Crush the Street obscene debt levels are being amassed on all levels of secondary education – even if the college in question is not “for profit.”

If you have kids entering college, in college, or graduates living with you at home, the following documentary is one you’ll want to share – just so they know exactly how they’ve been brainwashed into believing that the road to success requires a degree. Moreover, it reveals the reasons for why college education costs are sky rocketing, as well as the end result of the trillion dollar bubble that is sure to pop in coming years.

A Must Watch For Anyone Entering Higher Education: The College Bubble

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(Watch at Youtube)

The official fiscal year 2010 default rate was 14.7% and we can only expect that to be higher for the following years. No one but the government would guarantee a loan for anyone to go to college, for any curriculum with little regards for the likelihood of the individual to repay the loan.
 
The government gladly invests taxpayer dollars into student grants and loans. This is what has been driving the increase in college tuition bringing it above and beyond the average student and family.
 
For teenagers the propaganda is so potent that high school students in many cases have blind optimism that they will land their dream career after college and have the income to easily pay off any loan balances occurred along the way.
 
Some graduates are left with over 100,000 in debt and can barely find any job, let alone the one they pictured themselves getting into four years ago.

For starters, we are now living in a new economy, much different from the one our parents and grandparents experienced after World War II. Many of America’s high paying jobs have been outsourced to foreign countries. Manufacturing has been shifted to slave-labor economies like China. The majority of jobs left in America are low-paying, minimum wage labor. So the competition for the few high paying jobs remaining is extremely fierce.

This is why a huge percentage of American adults – nearly 30% – are living with their parents, and that includes graduates who just got out of school with tens of thousands in debt.

The government interference that caused home prices to rise ahead of the 2008 financial crisis and saw more people buy homes than ever before, is the very same effect we’re seeing in college education.

We all remember how that ended up.

College tuition cannot rise indefinitely. Eventually something will cause the great college bubble to pop.
 
Outstanding student loan debt is over $1.2 trillion. This is nearly 50% higher than outstanding credit card debt.
 
The longer the status quo is kept, the bigger the bubble is going to get… and thus the larger the crash will be.
 
In the coming years student loan payments will get so high that it’ll be unmanageable… even for the students that get the dream job that they were told their degree would award them.
 
Massive defaults will occur and colleges will soon be worse off. Prices will need to be readjusted to maintain the maximum income when attendance levels crash. Professors will face pay cuts or layoffs, along with administration, maintenance, construction and anyone else working for or at a college or university.

As an example, take a high school graduate who wants to become a teacher. She’ll spend four years in school and take on around $80,000 of debt. When she gets out of school, she’ll make around $35,000 a year. At that rate it would literally take her two decades to pay off her loan. Others might not be so lucky and will end up shackled with debt for their entire life, or they’ll simply default. Consider a liberal arts major who, in essence, is being trained for a “career t”hat produces a service that the majority of Americans won’t have the money to pay for. How will this individual pay back tens of thousands of dollar in debt?

The simple answer? They won’t.

There are certainly jobs out there that require higher education. But even those industries, such as the medical field, are being gutted from within.

This is just another example of what happens when government gets involved in the free market. Overblown prices, life-long debt commitments, and a future of destitution is what college graduates can expect over coming decades.

What high schoolers don’t realize – and many will never be taught under Common Core’s curriculum – is that the key elements for success are, among other things, self-education, focus, adaptability, resilience, persistence and an optimistic attitude. You know, all of those things that made America great to begin with. A college degree is secondary.

Image credit: http://www.shtfplan.com

 

China warns investors to prepare for “wave of bankruptcies”

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

China warns investors to prepare for “wave of bankruptcies”

 

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Things as we have said for nearly 2 years are not good in the Ultimate Crony Capitalist State. In fact they are quite bad.

It is textbook Austrian economics on an almost unimaginable scale.

 

Central banks poured “stimulus” into the system in 2008-2009 (I am almost sure the Fed leaned on them to do this.) Then as things started to slow a couple years later the Chinese poured more funny money into the system in an effort to keep the real estate boom in China going. They sort of succeeded – for a little bit.

But now there is nowhere to run.

There is also the outside possibility that the Chinese learned something from Japan and the United States. If they let the fat melt off now and then regather there is a very real possibility that they could emerge as a first class rival to the USA. But it would have to melt a lot of fat and I doubt the Communist Party would be able to handle it. But that’s interesting too.

(From CNBC.com)
 
Premier Li Keqiang told lenders to China’s private sector factories they should expect debt defaults as the world’s second largest economy encounters “serious challenges” in the year ahead.
 
Speaking after the annual session of the national people’s congress, Li Keqiang said: “We are going to confront serious challenges this year and some challenges may be even more complex.” He told lenders to China’s private sector factories they should expect debt defaults.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

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