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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

37 Facts About How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families

First published in October 2012
Have you ever laid in bed awake at night with a knot in your stomach because you didn’t know how your family was possibly going to make it through the next month financially?  Have you ever felt the desperation of not being able to provide the basic necessities for your family even though you tried as hard as you could?  All over America tonight, there are millions of desperate families that are being ripped apart by this economy.  There aren’t nearly enough jobs, and millions of Americans that actually do have jobs aren’t making enough to even provide the basics for their families. 
When you have tried everything that you can think of and nothing works, it can be absolutely soul crushing.  Today, one of my regular readers explained that he was not going to be online for a while because his power had been turned off.  He has been out of work for quite a while, and eventually the money runs out.  Have you ever been there?  If you have ever experienced that moment, you know that it stays with you for the rest of your life.  If you are single that is bad enough, but when you have to look into the eyes of your children and explain to them why there won’t be any dinner tonight or why they have to move into a homeless shelter it can feel like someone has driven a stake into your heart.  In this article you will find a lot of very shocking economic statistics.  But please remember that behind each statistic are the tragic stories of millions of desperately hurting American families.
Over the past decade, things have steadily gotten worse for American families no matter what our politicians have tried.  Poverty and government dependence continue to rise.  The cost of living continues to go up and incomes continue to go down.  It is truly frightening to think about what this country is going to look like if current trends continue.
The following are 37 facts that show how cruel this economy has been to millions of desperate American families…
1. One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.
2. A different recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.
3. In the United States today, there are close to 10 million households that do not have a single bank account.  That number has increased by about a million since 2009.
4. Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.
5. The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by about 6 million over the past four years.
6. Median household income has fallen for four years in a row.  Overall, it has declined by more than $4000 over the past four years.
7. 62 percent of middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
8. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of middle class Americans say that it is more difficult to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.
9. In the United States today, 77 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.
10. In the United States today, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans are not working.
11. Since January 2009, the “labor force” in the United States has increased by 827,000, but “those not in the labor force” has increased by 8,208,000.  This is how they have gotten the unemployment numbers to “come down”.
12. Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
13. Today, about one out of every four workers in the United States brings home wages that are at or below the federal poverty level.
14. Right now, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
15. At this point, less than 25 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs”, and that number continues to shrink.
16. There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
17. According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.
18. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
19. In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.
20. Health insurance premiums rose faster than the overall rate of inflation in 2011 and that is happening once again in 2012.  In fact, it has been happening for a very long time.
21. According to one recent survey, approximately 10 percent of all employers in the United States plan to drop health coverage when key provisions of the new health care law kick in less than two years from now.
22. Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.
23. Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.
24. Total consumer debt in the United States has risen by 1700 percent since 1971.
25. Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.
26. According to one recent survey, approximately one-third of all Americans are not paying their bills on time at this point.
27. Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living at home with their parents.
28. The percentage of Americans that find that they are able to retire when they reach retirement age continues to decline.  According to one new survey, 70 percent of middle class Americans plan to work during retirement and 30 percent plan to work until they are at least 80 years old.
29. The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.
30. In 2010, the number of jobs created at new businesses in the United States was less than half of what it was back in the year 2000.
31. Back in 2007, 19.2 percent of all American families had a net worth of zero or less than zero.  By 2010, that figure had soared to 32.5 percent.
32. Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished.
33. In the United States today, somewhere around 100 million Americans are considered to be either “poor” or “near poor”.
34. In October 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 46.7 million Americans are on food stamps.
35. Approximately one-fourth of all children in the United States are enrolled in the food stamp program.
36. Right now, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  And that does not even count Social Security or Medicare.
37. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government.  Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.
What makes all of this even more frightening is that many homeless shelters and food banks around the nation are so overloaded at this point that they are already over capacity.  Just consider this example
When Janice Coe, a homeless advocate in Loudoun County, learned through her prayer group that a young woman was sleeping in the New Carrollton Metro station with a toddler and a 2-month-old, she sprang into action.
Coe contacted the young woman and arranged for her to take the train to Virginia, where she put the little family up in a Comfort Suites hotel. Then Coe began calling shelters to see who could take them.
Despite several phone calls, she came up empty. Coe was shocked to learn that many of the local shelters that cater to families were full, including Good Shepherd Alliance, where Coe was once director of social services.
“I don’t know why nobody will take this girl in,” Coe said. “The baby still had a hospital bracelet on her wrist.”
Keep in mind that Loudoun Country is smack dab in the middle of one of the wealthiest areas of Virginia.
So if things are that bad in the wealthy areas, exactly how bad are things getting in many of the poorer areas?
Unfortunately, things continue to get worse for this economy.  DuPont has just announced plans to eliminate 1,500 jobs.  There are more major layoff announcements almost every single day.  So how bad will things get when our crumbling economic system finally collapses?  When kind of chaos will be unleashed all over the nation when millions upon millions of Americans finally lose all hope?
In the introduction to this article, I mentioned that one of my regular readers has had his lights turned off.  The following is how he described his situation
No gas, no water, no electricity at my house. Couldn’t pay the bills. I’m broke. Desperately searching for any means of income, or at least enough cash to get the juice (electricity) restored.
Typing this missive in a dark house using the battery on my laptop. Feels like I’m camping out at home. Hope to get this situation fixed tomorrow… somehow. Needless to say, I *…. hate this.
I was ready for this, but it is still a major league inconvenience. For those of you who DO have power, etc. – and are not ready… oh brother. You need to get ready. Seriously, you do. Because what I’m going through is just an inconvenience. It may someday be a normal occurence. Ugh. (expletives deleted)
Hopefully a way can be found to get his situation turned around, but the truth is that there are tens of millions of other similar stories out there in America today.
What about you?  What are things like in your neck of the woods?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below…

12 signs America is on the decline

Updated: Jul 21, 2015 4:21 PM Pacific
America is declining, in large and important measures, yet policymakers aren’t paying attention. So argues a new academic paper, pulling together previously published data.
Consider this:
  • America’s child poverty levels are worse than in any developed country anywhere, including Greece, devastated by a euro crisis, and eastern European nations such as Poland, Lithuania and Estonia.
  • Median adult wealth in the US ($39,000) is 27th globally, putting it behind Cyprus, Taiwan, and Ireland.
  • Even when “life satisfaction” is measured, America ranks #12, behind Israel, Sweden and Australia.
Overall, America’s per capita wealth, health and education measures are mediocre for a highly industrialized nation. Well-being metrics, perceptions of corruption, quality and cost of basic services, are sliding, too. Healthcare and education spending are funding bloated administrations even while human outcomes sink, the authors say.
“We looked at very broad measures, and at individual measures, too,” said co-author Hershey H. Friedman, a business professor at Brooklyn College - City University of New York. The most dangerous sign they saw: rising income and wealth inequality, which slow growth and can spark instability, the authors say.
“Capitalism has been amazingly successful,” write Friedman and co-author Sarah Hertz of Empire State College. But it has grown so unfettered, predatory, so exclusionary, it’s become, in effect, crony capitalism. Now places like Qatar and Romania, “countries you wouldn’t expect to be, are doing better than us,” said Friedman.
“You can become a second-rate power very quickly,” added Hertz.

To be sure, the debate over whether America is on the decline has raged for years. The US National Intelligence Council said in its global trends report a decade ago American power was on a downward trajectory. Others making the case say the US is overstretched militarily, ill-prepared technologically, at-risk financially, or lacking dynamism in the face of influential, new competitors.
Arguing decline has been exaggerated, others point to a rising US stock market, manufacturing strength, a growing population, and a domestic energy boom.
The authors collect many previously published rankings, and the picture that emerges, however, is sobering:
1. Median wealth per adult
Rank of U.S.: 27th out of 27 high-income countries
Americans may feel like global leaders, but Spain, Cyprus and Qatar all have higher median wealth (per capita) than America’s (about $39,000). So does much of Europe and the industrialized world. Per capita median income in the US ($18,700) is also relatively low--and unchanged since 2000. A middle-class Canadian’s income is now higher.
2. Education and skills
Rank of U.S.: 16th out of 23 countries
The US ranked near the bottom in a skills survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which examined European and other developed nations. In its Skills Outlook 2013, the US placed 16th in adult literacy, 21st in adult numeracy out of 23, and 14th in problem-solving. Spots in prestigious US universities are highly sought-after. Yet higher education, once an effective way out of poverty in the US, isn’t anymore – at least not for lower-income and minority students. The authors quote studies showing, for example, that today 80% of white college students attend Barron’s Top 500 schools, while 75% of black and Latino students go to two-year junior colleges or open-admissions (not Top 500) schools. Poor students are also far less likely to complete a degree.
3. Internet speed and access
Rank of U.S.: 16th out of 34 countries
Broadband access has become essential for industry to grow and flourish. Yet in the US, penetration is low and speed relatively slow versus wealthy nations—thought the cost of internet is among the highest ($0.04 per megabit per second in Japan, for example, versus $0.53 in the US). The problem may be too much concentration and too little competition in the industry, the authors suggest.
4. Health
Rank of U.S.: 33rd out of 145 countries
When it comes to its citizens’ health, in countries that are home to at least one million people, the US ranks below many other wealthy countries. More American women also are dying during pregnancy and childbirth, the authors note, quoting a Lancet study. For every 100,000 births in the United States, 18.5 women die. Saudi Arabia and Canada have half that maternal death rate.
5. People living below the poverty line
Rank of U.S.: 36th out of 162 countries, behind Morocco and Albania
Officially, 14.5% of Americans are impoverished -- 45.3 million people--according to the latest US Census data. That’s a larger fraction of the population in poverty than Morocco and Albania (though how nations define poverty varies considerably). The elderly have Social Security, with its automatic cost-of-living adjustments, to thank, the authors say, for doing better: Few seniors (one in 10) are poor today versus 50 years ago (when it was one in three). Poverty is also down among African Americans. Now America’s poor are more often in their prime working years, or in households headed by single mothers.
6. Children in poverty
Rank of U.S.: 34th out of 35 countries surveyed
When UNICEF relative poverty – relative to the average in each society—the US ranked at the bottom, above only Romania, even as Americans are, on average, six times richer than Romanians. Children in all of Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan fare better.
7. Income inequality
Rank of U.S.: Fourth highest inequality in the world.
The authors argue that the most severe inequality can be found in Chile, Mexico, Turkey -- and the US. Citing the Gini coefficient, a common inequality metric, and data from Wall Street Journal/Mercer Human Resource Consulting, they say this inequality slows economic growth, impedes youths’ opportunities, and ultimately threatens the nation’s future (an OECD video explains). Worsening income inequality is also evident in the ratio of average CEO earnings to average workers’ pay. That ratio went from 24:1 in 1965 to 262:1 in 2005.
8. Prison population
Rank of U.S.: First out of 224 countries
More than 2.2 million Americans are in jail. Only China comes close, the authors write, with about 1.66 million.
9. Life satisfaction
Rank of U.S.: 17th out of 36 countries
The authors note Americans’ happiness score is only middling, according to the OECD Better Life Index. (The index measures how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings.) People in New Zealand, Finland, and Israel rate higher in life satisfaction. A UN report had a similar finding.
10. Corruption
Rank of U.S.: 17th out of 175 countries.
Barbados and Luxembourg are ahead of the US when it comes to citizens’ perceptions of corruption. Americans view their country as "somewhat corrupt," the authors note, according to Transparency International, a Berlin-based nonprofit. In a separate survey of American citizens, many said politicians don’t serve the majority’s interest, but are biased toward corporate lobbyists and the super-rich. “Special interest groups are gradually transforming the United States into an oligarchy,” the authors argue, “concerned only about the needs of the wealthy.”
11. Stability
Rank of U.S.: 20th out of 178 countries.
The Fragile States Index considers factors such as inequality, corruption, and factionalism. The US lags behind Portugal, Slovenia and Iceland.
12. Social progress index
Rank of U.S.: 16th out of 133 countries
A broad measure of social well-being, the index comprises 52 economic indicators such as access to clean water and air, access to advanced education, access to basic knowledge, and safety. Countries surpassing the US include Ireland, the UK, Iceland, and Canada.
“If America’s going to be great again, we’ve got to start fixing things,” Friedman said.
Jill Hamburg Coplan is a writer and editor and regular contributor to Fortune.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the U.S. ranked 27th in median household income; the U.S. ranked 27th in median wealth per adult. This has been corrected in the current version.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Politics: Van Jones Speaking At The Broadbent Institute In Toronto

Politics: Van Jones Speaking At The Broadbent Institute In Toronto

By on January 1, 2017
I came upon this great speech by Van Jones after the US election. If you get time it is 35 minutes well spent. This is also what Van Jones had to say on CNN on election night about electing a bully.