Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Saturday, 17 December 2011

50 Economic Numbers From 2011 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe -

50 Economic Numbers From 2011 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe - 

Even though most Americans have become very frustrated with this economy, the reality is that the vast majority of them still have no idea just how bad our economic decline has been or how much trouble we are going to be in if we don't make dramatic changes immediately.  If we do not educate the American people about how deathly ill the U.S. economy has become, then they will just keep falling for the same old lies that our politicians keep telling them.  Just "tweaking" things here and there is not going to fix this economy.  We truly do need a fundamental change in direction.  America is consuming far more wealth than it is producing and our debt is absolutely exploding.  If we stay on this current path, an economic collapse is inevitable.  Hopefully the crazy economic numbers from 2011 that I have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.

At this time of the year, a lot of families get together, and in most homes the conversation usually gets around to politics at some point.  Hopefully many of you will use the list below as a tool to help you share the reality of the U.S. economic crisis with your family and friends.  If we all work together, hopefully we can get millions of people to wake up and realize that "business as usual" will result in a national economic apocalypse.

The following are 50 economic numbers from 2011 that are almost too crazy to believe....

#1 A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be "low income" or are living in poverty.

#2 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be "low income" or impoverished.

#3 If the number of Americans that "wanted jobs" was the same today as it was back in 2007, the "official" unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11 percent.

#4 The average amount of time that a worker stays unemployed in the United States is now over 40 weeks.

#5 One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers.

#6 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.

#7 Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.

#8 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006.  Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.

#9 A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that approximately one out of every five Americans that do have a job consider themselves to be underemployed.

#10 According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

#11 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#12 Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.

#13 One recent survey found that one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.

#14 The Federal Reserve recently announced that the total net worth of U.S. households declined by 4.1 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone.

#15 According to a recent study conducted by the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent.

#16 As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages.  According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.

#17 The U.S. Postal Service has lost more than 5 billion dollars over the past year.

#18 In Stockton, California home prices have declined 64 percent from where they were at when the housing market peaked.

#19 Nevada has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for 59 months in a row.

#20 If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.

#21 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant.  That figure is 63 percent larger than it was just ten years ago.

#22 New home construction in the United States is on pace to set a brand new all-time record low in 2011.

#23 As I have written about previously, 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 are now living with their parents.

#24 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#25 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.

#26 One study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.

#27 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

#28 The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

#29 It is being projected that the U.S. trade deficit for 2011 will be 558.2 billion dollars.

#30 The retirement crisis in the United States just continues to get worse.  According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.

#31 Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.

#32 According to a study that was just released, CEO pay at America's biggest companies rose by 36.5% in just one recent 12 month period.

#33 Today, the "too big to fail" banks are larger than ever.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

#34 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

#35 According to an analysis of Census Bureau data done by the Pew Research Center, the median net worth for households led by someone 65 years of age or older is 47 times greater than the median net worth for households led by someone under the age of 35.

#36 If you can believe it, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.

#37 A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7%) than has ever been measured before.

#38 Child homelessness in the United States is now 33 percent higher than it was back in 2007.

#39 Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.

#40 Sadly, child poverty is absolutely exploding all over America.  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4% of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1% of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6% of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6% of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.

#41 Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#42 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.

#43 A staggering 48.5% of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of government benefits.  Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.

#44 Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP.  Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.

#45 For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. federal government had a budget deficit of nearly 1.3 trillion dollars.  That was the third year in a row that our budget deficit has topped one trillion dollars.

#46 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

#47 Amazingly, the U.S. government has now accumulated a total debt of 15 trillion dollars.  When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.

#48 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

#49 The U.S. national debt has been increasing by an average of more than 4 billion dollars per day since the beginning of the Obama administration.

#50 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

Of course the heart of our economic problems is the Federal Reserve.  The Federal Reserve is a perpetual debt machine, it has almost completely destroyed the value of the U.S. dollar and it has an absolutely nightmarish track record of incompetence.  If the Federal Reserve system had never been created, the U.S. economy would be in far better shape.  The federal government needs to shut down the Federal Reserve and start issuing currency that is not debt-based.  That would be a very significant step toward restoring prosperity to America.

During 2011 we made a lot of progress in educating the American people about our economic problems, but we still have a long way to go.

Hopefully next year more Americans than ever will wake up, because 2012 is going to represent a huge turning point for this country.

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Ron Paul & Joe Rogan on the Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno -

Ron Paul & Joe Rogan on the Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno -

Beach Boys to reunite for 50th anniversary - will embark upon a 50-date world tour and record a new album -

Beach Boys to reunite for 50th anniversary - will embark upon a 50-date world tour and record a new album - 

US band The Beach Boys have announced plans to reunite for their 50th anniversary next year.

The five-piece, which includes founding members Brian Wilson, Mike Love and Al Jardine will embark upon a 50-date world tour and record a new album.

Jardine said they will appear at the Grammy Awards on 12 February and "do something really exciting".

The band, whose hits include Good Vibrations, will stage their first gig in New Orleans on 27 April.

The surviving original Beach Boys will be joined by Bruce Johnston and David Marks, who have been associated with the group for decades.

Wilson said: "This anniversary is special to me because I miss the boys, and it will be a thrill for me to make a new record and be on stage with them again."

Love added: "Music has been the unifying and harmonising fact of life in our family since childhood.

"It has been a huge blessing that we have been able to share with the world."

In reference to one of the Beach Boys's best known hits, he said: "Wouldn't It Be Nice to Do It Again? Absolutely!"

Wilson's brothers, Dennis and Carl - who were among the original line-up - died in 1983 and 1998.

The band, whose sound was evocative of the West Coast beach lifestyle of the US, were hugely successful in the 1960s but this waned with the gradual departure of chief songwriter Brian Wilson from the band due to psychological problems and drug use.

In the 1980s and beyond, the group were mired in a series of legal wrangles over the use of their name, with Love and Jardine settling a row out of court in 2008.

Wilson went on to embark upon a solo career, recently finishing work on Smile, a Beach Boys album which had been abandoned decades earlier and was the follow-up to their landmark collection Pet Sounds.


Newt Gingrich: 15 Things You Don’t Know About Him -

Newt Gingrich: 15 Things You Don’t Know About Him - 

Newt Gingrich has delivered more policy statements, campaign speeches, press appearances, course teachings, newspaper op-eds, and books (24 at last count) than any of his opponents seeking the Republican presidential nomination. So you’d think all this transparency would provide a clear picture of how Gingrich would govern if he were president. But the GOP presidential hopeful is still full of surprises.

With Gingrich currently leading the pack, his GOP rivals have the knives out. Saturday night’s Republican debate in Iowa was proof-positive that defeating Obama took a back seat to derailing Gingrich. Ron Paul and Michelle Bachman accused Gingrich of being a compromised conservative. And Romney accused him of being a bomb thrower. 

In a speech last Thursday at the National Press Club, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman called Gingrich “a product of the same Washington that participated in the excesses of our broken and polarized political system.” And in a strategy switch, Mitt Romney dispatched surrogates to criticize Gingrich’s leadership ability and commitment to conservative principles. “He’s not a reliable and trusted conservative leader,” said former Senator Jim Talent of Missouri, a Romney supporter.

Gingrich has waved away the attacks. “We’re focused on remaining positive,” he said last week during a campaign appearance in South Carolina.

Either way, with roughly three weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, The Fiscal Times has compiled these tidbits about the longtime politician, historian, consultant and author:

1.  Gingrich avoided the Vietnam War draft through deferments because he was a student and then a father. “Given everything I believe in, a large part of me thinks I should have gone over,” he said in 1985. 

2. Before his election to the House in 1978, he waged two unsuccessful campaigns to unseat Georgia’s sixth-district incumbent Jack Flynt in 1974 and 1976. In 1976 he attacked Flynt’s ethics, after a newspaper pointed out that while chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Flynt had told another congressman who was facing influence peddling charges not to worry about an ethics investigation. Gingrich lost that election with 48.3 percent of the vote, but won the seat in 1978 when Flynt retired. Some 25 years later, of course, Gingrich would face his own ethics charges.

3. In 1981, Gingrich co-sponsored a bill with Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to legalize medical marijuana nationally, which failed. He now calls legalizing medical marijuana a “terrible idea.”

4. Gingrich was a member of the Sierra Club, the left-leaning environmental advocacy group, from 1984 to 1990 – the years when he publicly opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Later, in a 2008 book entitled Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, Gingrich supported opening ANWR to drilling, as well as other parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

5. He broke from most House Republicans in 1990 by opposing a tax increase that broke George H.W. Bush’s famous “Read my lips, no new taxes,” pledge, which increased individual income tax rates from a top rate of 28 percent to 31 percent and phased out personal exemptions.  

6. In 1995, Time magazine named him Man of the Year after he co-engineered the GOP’s Contract with America, saying, “Leaders make things possible. Exceptional leaders make them inevitable. Newt Gingrich belongs in the category of the exceptional.”

7.Two years later, in 1997, he was the first House speaker in U.S. history to be reprimanded by the House for ethics violations. The House Ethics committee ordered him to pay out $300,000 after it concluded Gingrich had repeatedly improperly used tax-exempt charitable organizations to advance his political goals, accepting $25,000 from a restaurant-advocacy group to teach ideas they favored in a college course he taught. Congress fined him both for the violations themselves, as well as to cover some of the costs of the investigation, after Gingrich admitted he “misled” congressional investigators.   

8. He signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge in 1998 while he was House Speaker. According to Jimmy Williams, an MSNBC contributor, Gingrich was Norquist’s “Butt-buddy” when he was Speaker.   

9. He said in 2005 that tenure should be abolished at state universities, calling it “an artificial social construct.”

10. Gingrich co-chaired an independent congressional study group made up of health policy experts formed in 2007 to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of action taken within the U.S. to fight Alzheimer’s. Within the Alzheimer’s community, he’s well respected, with many in the community crediting him with helping to raise awareness.

11. He has flip-flopped on whether the government should impose an individual mandate to buy health insurance or not. In June 2007 he said, “Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying health insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it.” By spring of 2011, his tune completely changed. “I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional,” he said. 

12. In a 2008 appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Gingrich said, “I suspect were I still in Congress … I probably would end up voting reluctantly yes,” for the bank bailout, “because I think you are given no choice.”

13. In a December 2010 Fox News appearance, Gingrich endorsed letting business owners decide when to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire. “What Republicans ought to do is say to people who create jobs, how many years does the tax code need to be extended for you to make an investment decision? … I would have the business leadership of the country describe the number” of years the tax cuts should remain, he said.   

14. Between 1999 and 2007, Gingrich collected at least $1.5 million in consulting fees from Freddie Mac, according to a former official from the mortgage giant. His consulting group, The Gingrich Group LLC, and a health policy center he started called the Center for Health Transformation, together grossed $55 million between 2001 and 2010. According to disclosure documents, his net worth at the end of last year was at least $6.7 million.  

15. What sort of First Lady might Callista Gingrich be? Last week Gingrich’s wife told Reuters that she admired Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush and Jacqueline Kennedy. Mrs. Reagan, she said, “was always protective of her husband, looking out [for] his best interest always.” Laura Bush was “a very loving mother and wife,” while Jacqueline Kennedy had “incredible style and grace. She also focused on the arts and music and that's something I admire very much.”

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