I look around me and I see an Empire in Decline.
The US economy is clearly in a depression… not a recession, not a recovery, but a DEPRESSION. More than 40 million Americans (12%) are on Food stamps. Nearly one in five of us are unemployed of underemployed. Folks go to Wal-Mart at 11PM waiting for their government checks to clear at midnight so they can buy baby formula, milk and other necessities.
Three out of every five Americans are overweight. One in five are obese. Indeed, there are only two areas (one state, Colorado, and Washington DC) where obesity rates are under 20%.
Nearly three in four of us don’t get enough sleep. Almost one third of us report having trouble falling asleep EVERY night. And almost half of us report that day-time sleepiness interferes with normal activities including work.
Half of marriages end in divorce. One out of ten married couples report sleeping alone. The average American watches 28 hours of TV a week (enough to qualify for a part-time job). Two thirds of us eat dinner while watching TV, preferring the fake, sensationalized lives of others to engaging with our own families.
The TV and media are filled with foul, ungodly images of sex, violence, and hate. The most watched shows of the last decade all feature ordinary folks becoming superstars in lottery-esque competitions (American Idol, Survivor, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, etc) OR crime sagas detailing the most sordid and disgusting elements of society (CSI, Law and Order, etc) OR amoral social dramas in which notions of personal responsibility, fidelity, and common decency are unknown (Desperate Housewives, the Bachelorette, etc).
Today, brain dead, vapid human beings who have contributed nothing to society are idolized and followed as though they invented the wheel. We’ve actually got two industries devoted to presenting the illusion and reality of celebrity: Hollywood shows the photo-shopped, CGI-enhanced, scripted version, while the paparazzi and weekly glossies reveal the drug-addicted, affair-crazed, family breaking, soul-less emptiness.
Sex or violence are plastered on virtually every flat surface available. Even the check-out lines at the grocery store feature endless images of barely clothed women along with headlines sensationalizing gruesome behavior, right out in the open for children to see. And if the kid can actually read the headlines… God only knows what ideas this stuff is putting into their heads.
Financially, we’re all pretty much bust or going bust (except those on Wall Street).
New home sales in July were a RECORD low. Not record as in for the year, but the lowest since 1963. The talking heads are high fiving because sales improved in August, but failed to note that they were still DOWN 19% from August 2009 levels.
Americans two primary assets for retirement (stocks and their homes) have both been absolute disasters. Home prices are down 30%, stocks haven’t produced gains in over a decade. Every moron on TV talks about the Dow 10,000 like it’s a miracle. But when you adjust the Dow for inflation, (using the BLS’ ridiculous CPI measure) the Dow is SUB-500 in terms of purchasing power.
Our money system is controlled by an elite banking oligarchy fronted by academics who have never run a business, invented anything, or had any interaction with commerce aside from vying for tenure. Our currency is now worth less than 1/20th of what it was a century ago. And we are ALL in debt up to our eyeballs on a personal, corporate, local, state, and federal level.
Heck, even USA TODAY (not exactly the cutting edge in financial research) notes that in order to pay off our current liabilities, every US family would have to pay $31,000 a year… for 75 YEARS!!!
And we’re talking about an economic recovery?
According to David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff:
· Wages & salaries are still down 3.7% from the prior peak;
· Corporate profits are still down 20% from the peak;
· Real GDP is still down 1.3% from the peak;
· Industrial production is still down 7.2% from the peak;
· Employment is still down 5.5% from the peak;
· Retail sales are still down 4.5% from the peak;
· Manufacturing orders are still down 22.1% from the peak;
· Manufacturing shipments are still down 12.5% from the peak;
· Exports are still down 9.2% from the peak;
· Housing starts are still down 63.5% from the peak;
· New home sales are still down 68.9% from the peak;
· Existing home sales are still down 41.2% from the peak;
· Non-residential construction is still down 35.7% from the peak.
The American Psychological Association reports that 73% of Americans cite money as a source of significant stress. Personal bankruptcies have fallen 8% month over month from July to August. However, August 2010 bankruptcies are up 6% from August 2009… so much for the recovery.
And yet, despite all of this, assumedly intelligent people write op-ed articles and appear on TV claiming that things are swell in the US, that we’re actually OK and that the recession is over. Some of these people even have advanced degrees or have won international prizes for economics.
Let’s be honest. Forget recessions, forget even Depressions, the US is an empire in decline.
You can literally see it crumbling right in front of you. Just start looking at how people live, eat, and act on a day to day basis. Look at how our Government runs itself, how it manages our affairs, how it spends our tax Dollars. Look at how our justice system works, who it protects and who it punishes.
It’s all out there, right in the open for you to see. You don’t need an expert degree or some kind of advanced education. It’s OBVIOUS to anyone who bothers looking around.
The fact we don’t admit it doesn’t mean it’s not true.
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