Posts tagged social security

The Case of the Missing Recovery

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Source: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The Case of the Missing Recovery

 

Have you seen the economic recovery? I haven’t either. But it is bound to be around here somewhere, because the National Bureau of Economic Research spotted it in June 2009, four and one-half years ago.

It is a shy and reclusive recovery, like the “New Economy” and all those promised new economy jobs. I haven’t seen them either, but we know they are here, somewhere, because the economists said so.

Congress must have seen all those jobs before they went home for Christmas, because our representatives let extended unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million unemployed Americans, who have not yet met up with those new economy jobs, or even with an old economy job for that matter.

By letting extended unemployment benefits expire, Congress figures that they saved 1.3 million Americans from becoming lifelong bums of the nanny state and living off the public purse. After all, who do those unemployed Americans think they are? A bank too big to fail? The military-security complex? Israel?

What the unemployed need to do is to form a lobby organization and make campaign contributions.

Just as economists don’t recognize facts that are inconsistent with corporate grants, career ambitions, and being on the speaking circuit, our representatives don’t recognize facts inconsistent with campaign contributions.

For example, our representative in the White House tells us that ObamaCare is a worthy program even though those who are supposed to be helped by it aren’t because of large deductibles, copays, and Medicaid estate recovery. The cost of this non-help is a doubling of the policy premiums on those insured Americans who did not need ObamaCare and the reclassification by employers of workers’ jobs from full-time to part-time in order to avoid medical insurance costs. All it took was campaign contributions from the insurance industry to turn a policy that hurts most and helps none into a worthy program. Worthy, of course, for the insurance companies.

Keep in mind that it is the people who could not afford medical insurance who have to come up with their part of the premium or pay a penalty. How do people who have no discretionary income come up with what are to them large sums of money? Are they going to eat less, drive less, dress less? If so, what happens to people employed in those industries when demand falls? Apparently, this was too big a thought for the White House occupant, his economists, and our representatives in Congress.

According to the official wage statistics for 2012 http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/netcomp.cgi?year=2012 , forty percent of the US work force earned less than $20,000, fifty-three percent earned less than $30,000, and seventy-three percent earned less than $50,000. The median wage or salary was $27,519. The amounts are in current dollars and they are compensation amounts subject to state and federal income taxes and to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. In other words, the take home pay is less.

To put these incomes into some perspective, the poverty threshold for a family of four in 2013 was $23,550.

In recent years, the only incomes that have been growing in real terms are those few at the top of the income distribution. Those at the top have benefited from “performance bonuses,” often acquired by laying off workers or by replacing US workers with cheaper foreign labor, and from the rise in stock and bond prices caused by the Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing. Everyone else has experienced a decline in real income and wealth.

As only slightly more than one percent of Americans make more than $200,000 annually and less than four-tenths of one percent make $1,000,000 or more annually, there are not enough people with discretionary income to drive the economy with consumer spending. When real median family income and real per capita income ceased to grow and began falling, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan substituted a credit expansion to take the place of the missing growth in income. However, as consumers became loaded with debt, it was no longer possible to expand consumer spending with credit expansion.

World War II left the US economy the only undamaged industrial and manufacturing center. Prosperity ensued. But by the 1970s the Keynesian demand management economic policy had produced stagflation. Reagan’s supply-side policy was able to give the US economy another 20 years. But the collapse of the Soviet Union brought an era of jobs offshoring to large Asian economies that formerly were closed to Western capital. Once corporate executives realized that they could earn multi-million dollar performance bonuses by moving US jobs abroad and once they were threatened by Wall Street and shareholder advocates with takeovers if they did not, American capitalism began giving the US economy to other countries, mainly located in Asia. As high productivity manufacturing and professional service jobs (such as software engineering) moved offshore, US incomes stagnated and fell.

As real income growth stagnated, wives entered the work force to compensate. Children were educated by refinancing the home mortgage and using the equity in the family home or with student loans that they do not earn enough to repay. Since the December 2007 downturn, Americans have used up their coping mechanisms. Homes have been refinanced. IRAs raided. Savings drawn down. Grown children, now adults, are back home with parents. The falling labor force participation rate signals that the economy can no longer provide jobs for the workforce. In such a situation, economic recovery is impossible.

What the Treasury and Federal Reserve have done, with the complicity of the White House, Congress, economists, and the media, is to focus on rescuing a half dozen banks “too big to fail.” The consequence of focusing economic policy on saving the banks is rigged financial markets and massive stock and bond market bubbles. To protect the dollar’s exchange value from quantitative easing, the price of gold has been forced down in the paper futures market, with the consequence that physical gold is shipped to Asia where it is unavailable as a refuge for Americans faced with currency depreciation.

At a time when most Americans are running out of coping mechanisms, the US faces a possible financial collapse and a high rate of inflation from dollar depreciation as the Fed pours out newly created money in an effort to support the rigged financial markets.

It remains to be seen whether the chickens can be kept from coming home to roost for another year.

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.

 

Meet One Of The Victims Of Obama’s “Economic Recovery”

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

Meet One Of The Victims Of Obama’s “Economic Recovery”

 

Barack-Obama-speaking-into-a-microphone-and-pointing-to-the-right-Photo-by-Pat-Hawks-300x300Have you ever cried yourself to sleep because you had no idea how you were going to pay the bills even though you were working as hard as you possibly could?  You are about to hear from a single mother that has been there.  Her name is Yolanda Vestal and she is another victim of Obama’s “economic recovery”.  Yes, things have never been better for the top 0.01 percent of ultra-wealthy Americans that have got millions of dollars invested in the stock market.  But for most of the rest of the country, things are very hard right now.  At this point, more than 102 million working age Americans do not have a job, and 40 percent of those that are actually working earn less than $20,000 a year in wages.  If we actually are experiencing an “economic recovery”, then why is the federal government spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on welfare?  And that does not even include entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  We live in a nation where poverty is exploding and the middle class is shrinking with each passing day.  But nothing is ever going to get fixed if we all stick our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is “just fine”.

What you are about to read is an open letter to Barack Obama that has gone absolutely viral on the Internet in recent days.  It is a letter that a single mother named Yolanda Vestal posted on her Facebook page, and it has really struck a nerve because countless other young parents can clearly identify with what she is going through.  The following is the text of her letter…

Dear President Obama,
 
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you have done and are doing. You see I am a single Mom located in the very small town of Palmer, Texas. I live in a small rental house with my two children. I drive an older car that I pray daily runs just a little longer. I work at a mediocre job bringing home a much lower paycheck than you or your wife could even imagine living on. I have a lot of concerns about the new “Obamacare” along with the taxes being forced on us Americans and debts you are adding to our country. I have a few questions for you Mr. President.
 
Have you ever struggled to pay your bills? I have.
 
Have you ever sat and watched your children eat and you eat what was left on their plates when they were done, because there wasn’t enough for you to eat to? I have.
 
Have you ever had to rob Peter to pay Paul, and it still not be enough? I have.
 
Have you ever been so sick that you needed to see a doctor and get medicine, but had no health insurance because it was too expensive? I have.
 
Have you ever had to tell your children no, when they asked for something they needed? I have.
 
Have you ever patched holes in pants, glued shoes, replaced zippers, because it was cheaper than buying new? I have.
 
Have you ever had to put an item or two back at the grocery store, because you didn’t have enough money? I have.
 
Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, because you had no clue how you were going to make ends meet? I have.
 
My questions could go on and on. I don’t believe you have a clue what Americans are actually going through and honestly, I don’t believe you care. Not everyone lives extravagantly. While your family takes expensive trips that cost more than most of us make in two-four years, there are so many of us that suffer. Yet, you are doing all you can to add to the suffering. I think you are a very selfish and cold hearted man, who does not care what is best for the people he was elected by (not by me) to represent, but more so out for the glory of your name attached to history. So thank you Mr. President, thank you for pushing those of us that are barely staying afloat completely under water and driving America into the ground. You have made your mark in history, as the absolute worst and most hated president of the United States. God have mercy on your soul!
 
Sincerely,
 
Yolanda Vestal
 
Average American

These are the kinds of emotions that millions of American parents are wrestling with on a daily basis.  Many of them are working as hard as they possibly can and yet still find themselves unable to adequately provide for their families.

And now that food stamps are being cut back, more of them than ever are going to be forced to turn to food banks for help.  The following is what the head of a large food bank in Casper, Wyoming told one local newspaper about the increase in demand that he is witnessing in his area…

Across the state, food banks and other related programs aiming to feed the needy are worried the supply to meet the uptick in need during the holiday season won’t meet the growing demand for food caused by the expiration of SNAP benefits.
 
“People are scared to death of the lack of food availability,” Martin said.
 
Martin called Joshua’s Storehouse a reliable barometer for measuring the rate of need in Casper. The number of people using the food bank skyrocketed before the reduction in SNAP, he said.
 
Fewer than 2,000 people used the food bank in October 2012. Last month 2,500 people went there for help.

And of course this is not just happening in rural areas either.  Margarette Purvis, the head of the largest food bank organization in New York City, says that she is anticipating a huge surge in demand and that veterans are being hit particularly hard

“On this Veterans Day, when we’re waving our flags — I need every New Yorker to know — 40 percent of New York City veterans are relying on soup kitchens and pantries.”

Purvis says that there are 95,000 vets relying on food banks in New York City alone.

That is a lot of people.

And while Barack Obama may trot out a few vets on national holidays and promise that “we will never forget” them, the truth is that most of the time the federal government treats our military veterans like human garbage.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “25 Signs That Military Veterans Are Being Treated Like Absolute Trash Under The Obama Administration“.

Meanwhile, anger and frustration with the economy are starting to rise to very dangerous levels in this nation.

In a previous article, I noted that violent crime in America rose by 15 percent last year.  One of the primary reasons for this is the economic despair that we see in our streets.

As the economy gets even worse, people will become even more desperate.  We will start to see even more flash mob crimes like we saw in Chicago recently.  Posted below is a video news report that shows footage of a flash mob in Chicago dragging entire racks of merchandise out of a Sports Authority store…

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When you watch stuff like this, it helps to explain why demand for armored vehicles among the ultra-wealthy in America is skyrocketing.

Unfortunately, most Americans cannot afford armored vehicles and walled vacation homes in the middle of nowhere.

Most Americans are going to have to live right in the middle of all of this as it happens.

A volcano of anger, frustration and despair is simmering just below the surface in America.

When that volcano finally erupts, it is going to be a very frightening thing to behold.

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


Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

The Economic Crisis On Our Doorstep

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The Economic Crisis On Our Doorstep

 

11-11-2013 9-43-06 PM

 

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Published by Libertarianism.org

About:

Dr. Ron Paul was formerly the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 14th congressional district. He has also been a three-time candidate for President of the United States; as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008 and 2012.

Paul speaks at a meeting of the Economic Club of Detroit in 1988. He warns of a coming economic crisis, which he claims is the end result of the government’s fiscal and monetary programs.

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Again, Ron Paul had it right and told all willing to listen regarding the upcoming economic crisis.

 

 

Ignored Reality Is Going To Wipe Out The Human Race

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Source: http://paulcraigroberts.org

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

 

Ignored Reality Is Going To Wipe Out The Human Race

 

To inform people is hard slugging. Everything is lined up against the public being informed, or the policymakers for that matter. News is contaminated by its service to special interests and hidden agendas. Many scientists or their employers are dependent on federal money. Even psychologists and anthropologists were roped into the government’s torture and occupation programs. Economists tell lies for corporations and Wall Street. Plant and soil scientists tell lies for agribusiness and Monsanto. Truth tellers are slandered and persecuted. However, persistence can eventually win out. In the long-run, truth sometimes emerges. But not always. And not always in time.

I have been trying to inform the American people, economists, and policymakers for more than a decade about the adverse impacts of jobs offshoring on the US economy. The word has eventually gotten out. Last week I was contacted by 8th grade students competing for their school in CSPAN’s StudentCam Documentary Contest. They want to interview me on the subject of jobs offshoring for their documentary film.

America is a strange place. Here are eighth graders far ahead of the economics profession, the President, the Congress, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, and the financial press in their understanding of one of the fundamental problems of the US economy. Yet, people say the public schools are failing. Obviously, not the one whose students contacted me.

Is it too late? I know much, but not all. So this is not the final word. I think it might be too late. When skilled jobs are sent abroad, the skills disappear at home. So do the supply chains and the businesses associated with the skills. Things close down, and abilities are lost. Why take a major in college for a job that is offshored. A culture disappears.

But we can start them back up, right? Perhaps not. When a First World country exports its technology and know-how abroad to a Third World country in order to benefit from lower cost labor, how does the First World country get the work back? Living standards and the cost of living in Third World countries are much lower than in First World countries. The populations of First World countries cannot pay their mortgages, car payments, student loans, medical care, and grocery bills with the wages of Third World countries.

When First World wages drop, mortgage, car, credit card, and student loan payments do not drop. Americans cannot live on Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian wages. Once the technology and know-how is transferred, the low wage country has the advantage in the absence of tariff protection.

For America to revive, our economy would have to be walled off with high tariffs, and subsidies would have to be provided in order to recreate US industry and manufacturing. But many corporations now produce offshore, and America is broke. The government has been $1 trillion dollars in the hole each year for the last 5 years.

Jobs offshoring diminished the US tax base. When a job is sent abroad, so is that job’s contribution to US GDP and tax base. When millions of jobs are sent abroad, US GDP and tax base cannot support government spending levels. To the extent that there are any replacement jobs, they are in lowly paid domestic services, such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks, and hospital orderlies. These jobs do not provide a tax base or consumer spending power comparable to manufacturing jobs and tradable professional services such as software engineering and information technology.

Republicans and increasingly Democrats, as both parties are dependent on the same sources of campaign contributions, blame “entitlements.” By entitlements they mean welfare.

In fact, entitlements consist of Social Security and Medicare. Entitlements are funded by the payroll tax, approximately 15% of payroll. The fact that a person pays the payroll tax all his working life is why the person is entitled to Social Security and Medicare if they live to retirement age. Welfare, such as food stamps and housing subsidies, are a small part of the federal budget and are not entitlements.

Ever since President Reagan was betrayed three decades ago by Alan Greenspan and David Stockman, both of whom sold out to Wall Street and raised the Social Security payroll tax above what was needed to pay Social Security benefits in order to protect Wall Street’s stock and bond portfolios from exaggerated deficit fears, Social Security payroll tax revenues have exceeded Social Security payments. As of today, Social Security revenues exceed payments to beneficiaries by an accumulated $2 trillion. The money was used by the federal government to pay for its wars and other spending programs. The Social Security Trust Fund holds non-marketable IOUs from the Treasury. These IOUs can only be made good from an excess of tax revenues over expenditures or by the Treasury selling $2 trillion in bonds, notes, and bills and paying off its IOUs to the Social Security Trust Fund. This is not going to happen.

The Federal Reserve could not care less about the US population. The Fed was established for the purpose of protecting and aiding banks. Currently, the Fed, as if America were a Banana Republic which America appears to be becoming, is printing one thousand billion dollars per year in order to support the banks and to finance the federal deficit.

This is bad news for Americans, as it means that their fiat money is being created at a far greater rate than the demand for the dollar. The implication for our future is a drop in the dollar’s value. As there are no jobs, a drop in the dollar’s value means high inflation on top of unemployment and double the misery of the Great Depression.

As bad as this is, it is minor compared to the destruction of the planet’s environment. Online information shows that the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem is in crisis after the BP spill and use of Corexit, a dispersant used to hide, not clean up, the spilled oil. http://www.opednews.com/articles/Gulf-ecosystem-in-crisis-a-by-Dahr-Jamail-Corporation-BP_Ecosystems_Gulf-Oil-Spill-Disaster_Gulf-Shrimping-Industry-131020-15.html

The Fukushima catastrophe has hardly begun. Yet already the radioactive water pouring into the Pacific Ocean has made fish dangerous to eat unless a person is willing to accept a higher risk of cancer.

Fukushima has the potential of making Japan uninhabitable and of polluting the air, water, and soil of the US with radioactivity. Yet the crisis is seldom mentioned in the US media. In Japan the government just passed a law that could be used to imprison Japanese journalists who report truthfully on the dire situation.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the online information about Fukushima.. According to the presstitute media, Americans face threats from Iran and Syria and from whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden. The real threats are simply not in the news.

If you search Fukushima, you will find information that the presstitute media hides from you. See for example, http://www.globalresearch.ca/28-signs-that-the-west-coast-is-being-absolutely-fried-with-nuclear-radiation-from-fukushima/5355280

There are a number of other threats to the environment on which our lives depend. One is the effort to extract more productivity from the soil by use of GMOs. Monsanto has altered the genes of several crops so that the crops can be sprayed with RoundUp to eliminate weeds. The results have been to deplete the soil of nutrients, to destroy the micro-biology of the soil so that new plant diseases and funguses are activated, and to produce superweeds that require heavier doses of the glyphosate in RoundUp. The heavier dose of RoundUp worsens the aforementioned problems. US agricultural soil is losing its potency.

Now we come to chemtrails, branded another “conspiracy theory.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemtrail_conspiracy_theory However, the US government’s efforts to geo-engineer weather as a military weapon and as a preventative of global warming appear to be real. The DARPA and HAARP programs are well known and are discussed publicly by scientists. See, for example, http://news.sciencemag.org/2009/03/darpa-explore-geoengineering Search Chemtrails, and you will find much information that is kept from you. See, for example, http://www.globalresearch.ca/chemtrails-a-planetary-catastrophe-created-by-geo-engineering/5355299 and http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org

Some describe chemtrails as a plot by the New World Order, the Rothchilds, the Bilderbergers, or the Masons, to wipe out the “useless eaters.” Given the amount of evil that exists in the world, these conspiracy theories might not be as farfetched as they sound.

However, I do not know that. What does seem to be possibly true is that the scientific experiments to modify and control weather are having adverse real world consequences. The claim that aluminum is being sprayed into the atmosphere and when it comes to earth is destroying the ability of soil to be productive might not be imaginary. Those concerned about chemtrails say that weather control experiments have deprived the western United States of rainfall, while sending the rain to the east where there have been hurricane level deluges and floods.

In the West, sparse rainfall and lightning storms without rain are resulting in forests drying out and burning down. Deforestation adversely affects the environment in many ways, including the process of photosynthesis by which trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The massive loss of forests means more carbon dioxide and less oxygen. Watershed and species habitat are lost, and spreading aridity further depletes ground and surface water. If these results are the consequences of weather modification experiments, the experiments should be stopped.

In North Georgia where I spend some summers, during 2013 it rained for 60 consecutive days, not all day, but every day, and some days the rainfall was 12 inches–hurricane level–and roads were washed out. I received last summer 4 automated telephone warnings from local counties not to drive and not to attempt to drive through accumulations of water on the highways.

One consequence of the excess of water in the East is that this year there are no acorns in North Georgia. Zilch, zero, nada. Nothing. There is no food for the deer, the turkeys, the bear, the rodents. Starving deer will strip bark from the trees. Bears will be unable to hibernate or will be able only to partially hibernate, forced to seek food from garbage. Black bears are already invading homes in search of food.

Unusual drought in the West and unusual flood in the East could be coincidental or they could be consequences of weather modification experiments.

The US, along with most of the world, already had a water problem prior to possible disruptions of rainfall by geo-engineering. In his book, Elixir, Brian Fagan tells the story of humankind’s mostly unsuccessful struggle with water. Both groundwater and surface water are vanishing. The water needs of large cities, such as Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the irrigation farming that depends on the Ogallala aquifer are unsustainable. Fagan reminds us that “the world’s supply of freshwater is finite,” just like the rest of nature’s resources. Avoiding cataclysm requires long-range thinking, but humanity is focused on immediate needs. Long-range thinking is limited to finding another water source to deplete. Cities and agriculture have turned eyes to the Great Lakes.

Los Angeles exists because the city was able to steal water from hundreds of miles away. The city drained Owens Lake, leaving a huge salt flat in its place, drained the Owens Valley aquifer, and diverted the Owens River to LA via aqueduct. Farming and ranching in the Owens Valley collapsed. Today LA takes water from the Colorado River, which originates in Wyoming and Colorado, and from Lake Perris 440 miles away.

Water depletion is not just an American problem. Fagan reports that “underground aquifers in many places are shrinking so rapidly that NASA satellites are detecting changes in the earth’s gravity.”

If the government is experimenting with weather engineering, scientists are playing God when they have no idea of the consequences. It is a tendency of scientists to become absorbed by the ability to experiment and to ignore unintended consequences.

Readers have asked me to write about Fukushima and chemtrails because they trust me to tell them the truth. The problem is that I am not qualified to write about these matters with anything approaching the same confidence that I bring to economic, war and police state matters.

The only advice I can give is that when you hear the presstitute media smear a concern or explanation as “conspiracy theory,” have a closer look. The divergence between what is happening and what you are told is so vast that it pays to be suspicious, cynical even, of what “your” government and “your” presstitute media tell you. The chances are high that it is a lie.

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.

Meet the Disability-Industrial-Complex: Up to 45% on Disability Insurance are Frauds

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Source: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

By Michael Krieger

Meet the Disability-Industrial-Complex: Up to 45% on Disability Insurance are Frauds

 

If the American public knew what was going on in our system, half would be outraged and the other half would apply for benefits.

- Marilyn Zahm, one of the 1,500 disability judges operating in the U.S.

I’ve known about the “disability” scam for many years now, but I had never read a report that details the racket until I checked out the following from CBS’ 60 Minutes. As usual, the real money being made in the whole scheme is not centered around the people collecting the checks, but rather attorneys, doctors and even judges who grease the wheels of the $135 billion “disability-industrial-complex.”

For example, in the economically depressed border area of Kentucky and West Virginia we find 10%-15% of the population on disability, or three times the national average. The regional disability racket is essentially run by attorney Eric Conn, who’s clients for disability enjoy a 100% success rate thanks to Mr. Conn’s relationship with doctors and a local judge named David Daugherty.

Here are just a couple of examples of how Mr. Conn uses his advertising budget:

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Senator Tom Coburn explains to CBS’ 60 Minutes that:

Coburn says the report — to be released tomorrow — will show that Conn collected more than $13 million in legal fees from the federal government over the past six years and that he paid five doctors roughly $2 million to regularly sign off on bogus medical forms that had been manufactured and filled out ahead of time by Conn’s staff.

Just another scam from a scam economy. More from 60 minutes:

 

The hearing involves the Federal Disability Insurance Program, which could become the first government benefits program to run out of money. When it began back in the 1950s it was envisioned as a small program to assist people who were unable to work because of illness or injury.

Today, it serves nearly 12 million people — up 20 percent in the last six years — and has a budget of $135 billion. That’s more than the government spent last year on the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the Labor Department combined. It’s been called a “secret welfare system” with it’s own “disability industrial complex,” a system ravaged by waste and fraud. A lot of people want to know what’s going on. Especially Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Tom Coburn: Go read the statute. If there’s any job in the economy you can perform, you are not eligible for disability. That’s pretty clear. So, where’d all those disabled people come from? 

The Social Security Administration, which runs the disability program says the explosive surge is due to aging baby boomers and the lingering effects of a bad economy. But Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Subcommittee for Investigations — who’s also a physician — says it’s more complicated than that. Last year, his staff randomly selected hundreds of disability files and found that 25 percent of them should never have been approved — another 20 percent, he said, were highly questionable.

Sen. Coburn says disability payments are now propping up the economy in some of the poorest regions in the country. Which is why he sent his investigators to the border area of Kentucky and West Virginia.

More than a quarter of a million people in this area are on disability — 10 to 15 percent of the population — about three times the national average. Jennifer Griffith and Sarah Carver processed disability claims at the Social Security regional office in Huntington, West Virginia.

Full article and link to segment here.

Follow Mike on Twitter!

Image credit: http://libertyblitzkrieg.com

The Percentage Of Americans That Consider Themselves To Be “Lower Class” Is At An All-Time High

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

 

The Percentage Of Americans That Consider Themselves To Be “Lower Class” Is At An All-Time High

 

Urban-Decay-In-Buffalo-300x300Do you consider yourself to be “lower class”?  Most Americans wouldn’t dream of thinking that way.  Even at the toughest times of my own life, I always considered myself to be “middle class”.  Traditionally, the vast majority of Americans have described themselves as either “middle class” or “working class”, but now we are witnessing a huge shift.  According to survey results that were just released, the percentage of Americans that identify themselves as “lower class” is now at an all-time high.  It is still only 8.4 percent of the country, but the fact that this number is rapidly growing shows that something is changing on a very fundamental level.  In America today, less people than ever believe that they have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves, and according to a brand new Gallup poll that was just released, 20 percent of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year.  We have 47 million people on food stamps and we have more than 100 million Americans enrolled in at least one welfare program, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.  We have gone from a “land of opportunity” to a land where tens of millions of people are being crushed by the system.

When I mentioned above that “less people then ever believe that they have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves”, perhaps you doubted that statement.

And I wish that it was not true.

But according to the Los Angeles Times, that is exactly what one new survey shows…

Last year, less than 55% of Americans agreed that “people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living,” the lowest level since the General Social Survey first asked the question in 1987.

And even those that are “educated” are becoming more pessimistic…

From 2002 to 2012, the “lower class” among Americans with one to four years of college more than doubled — from 2.6% to 5.8%.

So what about you?

Would you describe yourself as “lower class”?

Not that there is anything wrong with that.  It can be very hard to be optimistic about your economic situation when you are trapped in poverty and everyone around you is trapped in poverty.

Even as Barack Obama boldly proclaims that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery”, poverty continues to grow.  In New Jersey, poverty hit a 52-year high in 2011, and when the final numbers for 2012 come out it is anticipated that they will be even worse…

Poverty in New Jersey continued to grow even as the national recession lifted, reaching a 52-year high in 2011, according to a report released today. The annual survey by Legal Services of New Jersey found 24.7 percent of the state’s population — 2.1 million residents — was considered poor in 2011. That’s a jump of more than 80,000 people — nearly 1 percent higher than the previous year and 3.8 percent more than pre-recession levels. ”This is not just a one-year or five-year or 10-year variation,” said Melville D. Miller Jr., the president of LSNJ, which gives free legal help to low-income residents in civil cases. “This is the worst that it’s been since the 1960 Census.” And it may get worse: The report warned Census figures for 2012 to be released this month may be higher.

There are two Americas today.  In the “good America”, stock values are soaring and almost everyone has a job.  People from that America openly wonder why everyone is so concerned about the economy.

In the “bad America”, unemployment is rampant and poverty is everywhere.  At this point, low income households have an unemployment rate that is over 21 percent, and there is not much help on the horizon.

In the old days, if the wealthy wanted to get wealthier, they needed the rest of us to run their businesses and work in their factories.

But today, they have figured out that they can make much larger profits by replacing us with computers, robots and machines.  They have also figured out that they can ship millions of our jobs to the other side of the planet where it is legal to pay slave labor wages with no benefits.

This is putting a huge squeeze on average American workers.  For most Americans, the only thing that they have to offer in the marketplace is their labor.  Unfortunately, that labor is not valued as much as it used to be.

Yes, the elite still need us to do service jobs for them.  Those are not easily replaced by technology or shipped overseas.  So they still need us to cut their hair and flip their burgers.

But without a doubt we have a structural problem with unemployment.  As the Brookings Institution recently discovered, it would take 8 million more jobs before we could say that we have “recovered” from the last recession…

Last month, the unemployment rate fell to 7.3% from 8.1% a year ago. That might signal progress, but the share of workers with jobs was 58.6%; it has remained close to that for several years. The unemployment rate is inherently flawed and isn’t the best measure of economic progress; it counts only those with jobs or actively looking for work.
 
And in a frustratingly slow economic recovery that has discouraged countless workers, it risks ignoring these missing workers — an estimated 6 million, according to the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project.
 
The Washington-based think tank has come up with what it calls the “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs it would take to offset the effects of the Great Recession. Factoring in the millions of jobs lost during the Great Recession and the number of jobs needed to absorb new workers, the nation needs 8.3 million jobs to fully recover from the recession.

And of course the quality of our jobs continues to decline as well.  In America today, only 47 percent of adults have a full-time job, and one out of every ten jobs is now filled by a temp agency.

Unfortunately, thanks to Obamacare this trend is going to get a lot worse.  Millions more Americans are going to be forced into part-time employment.  For example, just check out what Trader Joe’s is doing

Trader Joe’s, the grocer once lauded for providing health care coverage to its part-time workers, is about to push those employees off its plan.
 
According to a memo obtained by the Huffington Post, the company will stop covering employees who work less than 30 hours per week.
 
The change is set for the start of 2014. Instead of insurance, workers instead will get a check for $500 in January.
 

“Depending on income you may earn outside of Trader Joe’s, we believe that with the $500 from Trader Joe’s and the tax credits available under the [Affordable Care Act (ACA)], many of you should be able to obtain health care coverage at very little if any net cost to you,” said Trader Joe CEO Dan Bane in the memo.

I wish that there was better news to report, but we have to be very honest about where we are at as a nation.

In order for there to be a thriving “middle class”, there needs to be lots of middle class jobs.

Sadly, the number of breadwinner jobs that the middle class depends upon is shrinking.

Unless a miracle happens, the percentage of Americans that consider themselves to be “lower class” is probably going to continue to grow.

So how would you solve this problem? 

Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

IRS Employee Charged with Identity Theft

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Source: http://nextnewsnetwork.com

IRS Employee Charged with Identity Theft

 

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Image credit: http://nextnewsnetwork.com

COVINGTON, Kentucky – An employee of the Internal Revenue Service has been charged with identity theft.

Joy Fox, who was a financial technician in the Boone County, Kentucky IRS office, has been indicted on eight counts of unauthorized data access for the purpose of improperly acquiring personal identification, three counts of mail fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

The pilfered information was used to siphon money from the victims’ Social Security benefits.

http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/IRS-Employee-Accused-Identity-Theft-67543-1.html

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/29/yet-another-irs-employee-uses-agency-dat

Our Legacy Systems: Dysfunctional, Unreformable

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Source: http://libertycalling.net

Posted by Judy Morris

Our Legacy Systems: Dysfunctional, Unreformable

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America’s legacy systems are like stars about to go super-nova.

There are two problems with the vast, sprawling legacy systems we’ve inherited from the past: they’re dysfunctional and cannot be fixed/reformed. The list of dysfunctional legacy systems that cannot be truly reformed is long: Social Security, with its illusory Trust Funds and unsustainable one-to-two ratio of beneficiaries to full-time workers; Medicare, 40% fraud and ineffective/needless care; the healthcare system (if you dare even call the mess a system), 40% paper shuffling and 25% defensive medicine and profiteering; weapons procurement–the system works great if you like cost overruns and programs that take decades to actually produce a weapon; higher education–costs have skyrocketed 700% while studies (Academically Adrift) have found that fully a third of all college graduates learned little of value in their four years; the financial system–now that we’ve given the Federal Reserve oversight over Too Big To Fail Bank practices, do you really think we’ll ever get rid of TBTF banks?

One place to start an investigation of any legacy system is to ask: how would we design a replacement system from scratch? The gulf between a practical, efficient replacement system and the broken legacy system is a measure of the legacy system’s dysfunction.

We all know why legacy systems cannot be reformed or replaced: each has a veritable army of constituents and vested interests. Every single person drawing a check or payment from the legacy system fears reform of any kind, as each fears that their place at the feeding trough might be threatened.

Read the rest at OfTwoMinds.com, here.

21 Facts About Rising Government Dependence In America That Will Blow Your Mind

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Source: http://libertycalling.net

Posted by

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Government dependence in the United States has reached a level never seen before. Fifty years ago, the federal government handed out about 10 cents for every dollar that American workers earned. Now, the federal government hands out about 35 cents for every dollar that American workers earn. Yes, there are always poor people that cannot take care of themselves. We never want to see a single American going hungry or sleeping in the streets. But we are rapidly approaching the point where so many people are jumping on to the “safety net” that it is going to break.

If you can believe it, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program, and more than 70 percent of all spending by the federal government goes to “dependence-creating programs”. If we really are “the greatest economy on earth”, then why is the number of people dependent on the government absolutely exploding?

Of course the truth is that all of this just shows that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline that is rapidly accelerating. Our economy simply does not produce enough jobs anymore, and there are a whole lot of people out there that are really suffering.

It is good to want to help all of the people that are hurting, but the reality is that we are spending far more money than we can afford to. We have been borrowing (stealing) more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day to pay for all of this. Our national debt is rapidly approaching 17 trillion dollars, and if future generations get the chance, they will look back and curse us for handing such a mountain of debt down to them.

It is absolutely criminal what we are doing to future generations. But we cannot help ourselves. We are like the 400-pound union executive in New York that takes long naps at his desk every afternoon. We know that what we are doing is not right, but we cannot help ourselves. For much more on the horror of our national debt, please see my previous article entitled “55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know”.

So what should we do? We certainly don’t want millions of Americans to go without food or a place to sleep, and yet the number of Americans who need government assistance just continues to grow. Of course the ultimate solution would be to provide a job for all of those people, but our economy is falling apart. Unless a miracle happens, the U.S. economy will never produce enough jobs ever again. As our economy continues to crumble, dependence on the government is likely going to continue to rise.

The following are 21 facts about rising government dependence in America that will blow your mind…

1. 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.

2. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government. Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

Read the rest at Activist Post: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/05/21-facts-about-rising-government.html

Taxation is Theft

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Source: http://spreadlibertynews.com

Taxation is Theft

Source: http://spreadlibertynews.com

By Andrew Napolitano

With a tax code that exceeds 72,000 pages in length and consumes more than six billion person hours per year to determine taxpayers’ taxable income, with an IRS that has become a feared law unto itself, and with a government that continues to extract more wealth from every taxpaying American every year, is it any wonder that April 15th is a day of dread in America? Social Security taxes and income taxes have dogged us all since their institution during the last century, and few politicians have been willing to address these ploys for what they are: theft.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry caused a firestorm among big-government types during the Republican presidential primaries last year when he called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. He was right. It’s been a scam from its inception, and it’s still a scam today.

When Social Security was established in 1935, it was intended to provide minimal financial assistance to those too old to work. It was also intended to cause voters to become dependent on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Democrats. FDR copied the idea from a system established in Italy by Mussolini. The plan was to have certain workers and their employers make small contributions to a fund that would be held in trust for the workers by the government. At the time, the average life expectancy of Americans was 61 years of age, but Social Security didn’t kick in until age 65. Thus, the system was geared to take money from the average American worker that he would never see returned.

Over time, life expectancy grew and surpassed 65, the so-called trust fund was raided and spent, and the system was paying out more money than it was taking in — just like a Ponzi scheme. FDR called Social Security an insurance policy. In reality, it has become forced savings. However, the custodian of the funds — Congress — has stolen the savings and spent it. And the value of the savings has been diminished by inflation.

Today, the best one can hope to receive from Social Security is dollars with the buying power of 75 cents for every dollar contributed. That makes Social Security worse than a Ponzi scheme. You can get out of a Ponzi investment. You can’t get out of Social Security. Who would stay with a bank that returned only 75 percent of one’s savings?

The Constitution doesn’t permit the feds to steal your money. But steal, the feds do.

At one of last year’s Republican presidential debates, a young man asked the moderator to pose the following question to the candidates: “If I earn a dollar, how much of it am I entitled to keep?” The question was passed to one of the candidates, who punted, and then the moderator changed the topic. Only Congressman Ron Paul gave a serious post-debate answer to the young man’s question: “All of it.”

Every official foundational government document — from the Declaration of Independence to the U.S. Constitution to the oaths that everyone who works for the government takes — indicates that the government exists to work for us. The Declaration even proclaims that the government receives all of its powers from the consent of the governed. If you believe all this, as I do, then just as we don’t have the power to take our neighbor’s property and distribute it against his will, we lack the ability to give that power to the government. Stated differently, just as you lack the moral and legal ability to take my property, you cannot authorize the government to do so.

Here’s an example you’ve heard before. You’re sitting at home at night, and there’s a knock at the door. You open the door, and a guy with a gun pointed at you says: “Give me your money. I want to give it away to the less fortunate.” You think he’s dangerous and crazy, so you call the police. Then you find out he is the police, there to collect your taxes.

The framers of the Constitution understood this. For 150 years, the federal government was run by user fees and sales of government land and assessments to the states for services rendered. It rejected the Hamiltonian view that the feds could take whatever they wanted, and it followed the Jeffersonian first principle that the only moral commercial exchanges are those that are fully voluntary.

This worked well until the progressives took over the government in the first decade of the 20th century. They persuaded enough Americans to cause their state legislatures to ratify the Sixteenth Amendment, which was designed to tax the rich and redistribute wealth. They promised the American public that the income tax would never exceed 3 percent of income and would only apply to the top 3 percent of earners. How wrong — or deceptive — they were.

Yet, the imposition of a federal income tax is more than just taking from those who work and earn and giving to those who don’t. And it is more than just a spigot to fill the federal trough. At its base, it is a terrifying presumption. It presumes that we don’t really own our property. It accepts the Marxist notion that the state owns all the property and the state permits us to keep and use whatever it needs us to have so we won’t riot in the streets. And then it steals and uses whatever it can politically get away with. Do you believe this?

There are only three ways to acquire wealth in a free society. The inheritance model occurs when someone gives you wealth. The economic model occurs when you trade a skill, a talent, an asset, knowledge, sweat, energy or creativity to a willing buyer. And the mafia model occurs when a guy with a gun says: “Give me your money or else.”

Which model does the government use? Why do we put up with this?

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