Economic Collapse Blog
Saturday, November 20, 2010
For decades, our politicians have been deeply addicted to government debt, they have stood idly by as millions of our jobs have been shipped overseas and they have passed countless business-crushing regulations and they never thought that it would catch up with us. Well, it has. America has been living in the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world, and now that bubble is starting to pop. There has never been such an extended period of unemployment in the United States since the Great Depression, and millions of Americans are losing their homes. Homelessness is skyrocketing, tent cities are popping up everywhere and countless numbers of American families are experiencing the soul-crushing despair that comes from desperately trying to hang on for month after month after month.
Now, because of the horrific hole that our politicians have dug for us, we are faced with some heartbreaking choices. For example, right now the U.S. Congress is deciding whether or not to extend long-term unemployment benefits for the nation’s jobless.
Extending those benefits through the end of February would add another $12.5 billion to the U.S. national debt. But not doing it would cut off the only lifeline that many Americans have just in time for the holidays.
The extension of jobless benefits that was passed last summer expires on December 1st. If these long-term benefits are not renewed, approximately 2 million unemployed Americans will lose their checks.
But what can the U.S. Congress do? Just keep going into endless amounts of debt? As I have written about previously, the United States is never going to see another balanced budget ever again under the current system. The U.S. government is flat out broke. Somehow our politicians desperately need to find a way for the federal budget to stop hemorrhaging red ink.
There is no more “extra money” to spend. The U.S. government has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and we are headed for a complete and total economic disaster because of it.
But what are we going to do? Are we going to let millions of Americans starve in the streets?
It’s not just the rapidly rising number of homeless Americans that is the problem. Millions of Americans are not going to be able to heat their homes this winter. Millions of others are going to have to choose between buying medicine and buying food because they will not be able to afford both.
How would you like to be at a point where you could not go to the doctor because you knew that you could not pay the deductible?
How would you like to be at a point where you had to decide whether to buy diabetes medicine or to buy macaroni and cheese to feed your family?
More than 42 million Americans are now on food stamps, and that number keeps going up month after month after month.
Just think about that.
42 million Americans would not be able to eat if the U.S. government did not give them handouts.
The safety net is getting awfully crowded.
If you really want to see some soul-crushing desperation, go check out the flood tunnels under the city of Las Vegas. But do not do this alone – it is very dangerous down there. Today, there are hordes of “tunnel people” who call those dark tunnels home. Nobody knows for sure how many people are down there (some people say that it is well into the thousands), but everyone agrees that the number is rapidly growing.
But in many major U.S. cities there are no flood tunnels to go to. Instead, in many areas of the United States huge tent cities have sprouted. The following is a video news report from the BBC about the tent cities that are popping up all over America….
But it is not just “drug addicts” and the “mentally ill” that are going to these tent cities. One anonymous unemployed woman identified only as “Kaynonymous” is a highly educated professional who figures that she will end up in a tent city soon….
“I’m a 99er too. 53, female, single and once on track with an IT career. No one in their right mind would consider me for an IT position after being gone from the field for over 2 years. I have officially been a 99er since May 2010. In Aug. 2010 all of my savings and retirement funds were finally depleted–not only can I no longer make my mortgage payment, I can no longer afford utilities either. I’m just not sure that the 99ers ever had a voice outside of union organizers and even with them it was too little too late. Guess I’ll be seeing ya’ll in the soup kitchens and tent cities. I do still have my tent…”
So we should just extend the long-term unemployment benefits, right? Well, according to a recent poll commissioned by the National Employment Law Project, 73 percent of Americans want Congress to continue paying out extended unemployment benefits.
But it is not just that simple.
America is broke.
The entire financial system is dying.
The U.S. government desperately needs to stop spending so much money.
But how can we turn our backs on people who are desperately hurting?
There are millions of Americans that have just about reached the end of their ropes. For example, one 43-year-old woman named Jacqueline recently expressed some of the extreme frustration that she is experiencing on her blog….
I am one of the 6 million poor, unemployed middle-aged Americans struggling without any safety net or income other than food stamps. I have resorted to salvaging scrap metal just to survive while keeping up an increasingly hopeless job search. On May 4th, 2010 just three weeks before my 43rd birthday ago I got slapped with a diagnosis of very early stage glaucoma when I had a six year long overdue optical exam for badly needed new glasses. Without treatment — including ophthalmologist’s glaucoma monitoring exams — I will end up blind and permanently disabled. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of when.
As a society, we will be judged by how we treat those who are the most vulnerable. It can seem easy to bash those who have lost everything, but someday you might end up in that position. In the following video, police in St. Petersburg, Florida are seen using box cutters to slice up the tents that the homeless were sleeping in….
Hopefully you were deeply disturbed by that video.
We have gotten ourselves into a giant mess, and things are only going to get worse.
Unfortunately, some extremely painful decisions are going to have to be made.
The truth is that we are so deeply in debt that the U.S. government just cannot be spending any extra money right now.
However, we also cannot turn our backs on millions of American families that are going to lose their homes and go hungry if we do not help them.
So what do we do?
What hurting Americans need most of all are not handouts – what they really need are good jobs.
But good jobs are being shipped overseas at a breathtaking pace. The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001. The greatest economic machine in the history of the world is literally having its guts ripped out, and most of you kept voting in jokers who supported all of this deindustrialization.
For decades, our politicians kept telling us how wonderful globalization would be for America. We didn’t listen when Ross Perot warned us about “the great sucking sound” that these “free trade” agreements would bring about.
Well, look how all of that turned out. In 1985, the U.S. trade deficit with China was 6 million dollars for the entire year. In the month of August alone, the U.S. trade deficit with China was over 28 billion dollars.
In case you can’t figure it out, that means that 28 billion dollars of our national wealth was transferred to China in just one month.
This is happening month after month after month.
“This will keep America on its toes. America is going to have to compete. There is going to be a tug-of-war within the US between those who see globalization as a threat and those who accept we live in a open integrated world, which has challenges and opportunities.”
Yes, globalization is a threat. We should have never merged our economy with the economy of China where workers make less than a tenth of what an American worker makes.
Jobs are flooding out of the U.S. and they are flooding into places like India and China where labor is far, far cheaper.
But without good jobs, how in the world are average Americans going to pay the bills?
The answer is that an increasing number of them are not. 1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 – a 32 percent increase over 2008.
Incomes are going down. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States fell from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 in 2009.
Things are getting worse instead of getting better.
And things are going to continue to get worse because the U.S. government goes into more debt every single month, most state and local governments go into more debt every single month, and thanks to America’s exploding trade deficit, tens of billions of our national wealth gets transferred out of the United States every single month.
The U.S. economy is dying. There are going to be even more tent cities and even more hungry Americans. The scale of the economic nightmare that we are facing in the years ahead is going to be unimaginable.
So if you get to enjoy a warm dinner and you get to sleep in a warm bed tonight, please consider yourself to be very fortunate. Someday soon you also may find those things cruelly stripped away from you.
This article was posted: Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 6:51 am