Live On Less Money

A dollar sure doesn’t buy what it used to and most middle class Americans are feeling the squeeze. Most of us are seeing a financial decline in our life and whatever household income we have. A trip to the grocery store can be a depressing event when working within a budget because food has gotten more expensive. We either see a direct price increase or we see smaller packages with less of the product inside. Even going to and from the grocery store has gotten more expensive. When we get gas for our vehicles, we see that gas has doubled in price from just 4 years ago.  Electricity has gotten more expensive, too, and many of us are looking at alternative ways to use less. Then there are those nifty items that we would like to purchase but can’t because there isn’t much money left after paying for necessities. How could this be? We keep hearing that we are in an economic recovery but the data does match up with real life.  The decline of the middle class is real and it keeps getting worse.

Great Depression

New unemployment numbers have just been released and although it appears that the U.S. businesses are hiring and the unemployment rate is improving, all of the data is not being provided to show what’s going on all across America. For one, people who have stopped looking for work have been removed from the statistics that affect the unemployment data. As well, for those people who actually do find a job, they have often settled for a lesser-paying job. They’re employed, yes, but earning less money and perhaps only working part-time with no benefits.  Welcome to the New America…a repeat of the Great Depression.

Great Depression

Without a full-time job, or the benefits that a full-time provides, many middle class Americans are being forced into a different lifestyle. We are living in difficult times. Some of us will adapt readily and some will have a very difficult time with the changes they face.  There is no doubt that having to do without or settle for less is not the American Dream, but it is the American reality now. There are millions of Americans who have lost or will lose the home they once paid a mortgage on.

Great Depression Living In TentsMiddle class ‘wealth’ has plummeted in recent years and even those figures, and the price of homes are artificially inflated.  At the start of 2013, 4 million homes were in financial distress (not yet foreclosed on or on the Multiple Listings) and are now considered part of the shadow housing inventory. This enormous quantity of homes not-yet-on-the-books has manipulated our ‘wealth’ even more through inflated home prices.

This is not good. And it won’t turn out well. Some middle class families will not recover and will be forced to file bankruptcy. Others may only need to budget their money to make ends meet. But the majority of middle class families will be forced to live on less money.

But make no mistake — no middle class family is immune. We are all affected.

Pew: Middle Class Wealth

Savings, retirements, property assets, and life plans have been affected in recent years. And now we are dealing with the issues involving the Federal Reserves money-pump known as Qualitative Easing.  It’s too much! (And we haven’t even gotten to the real economic crisis and subsequent crash yet.)  For most middle class people, the American reality is difficult to accept but what other choices do we have?

Well, for those of us who are able to do so, we must take control of what we CAN control: we can live on less. Since we are all feeling the income drop from the 2013 payroll tax and we are all seeing the devaluation of the US Dollar, we don’t have much choice about the problem — we must learn to live on less money.

There are many articles to help people figure out how to live on less moneTable settingy. Most of these articles are action-item oriented and they provide the expected list which always includes the modified budget, bargain shopping, DIY projects, and frugal tips. But most of the articles written on this subject neglect some of the most basic factors that can help people live on less. It’s about having the proper mindset.

A great deal of our personal happiness and success come from the right attitude. And being healthy also contributes to our overall outlook on life.  Simply put, we need to be content within ourselves. We want to feel that we have a purpose. Some of us are laid-back while some of us are high maintenance, but no matter what our personality type is, we can all learn to have the right attitude to pursue our lives.

Frugality goes a long way when learning to live on less money. And bartering, otherwise known as swapping stuff, can also help to live on less money. Help neighbors: many hands make light the load.

Amish Barn Raising

Also, learning the difference between a “need” and a “want” is critical to learning how to live on less money. Before we decide to buy something we want, we must meet our needs.

If we get rid of our long list of desires and wants, we actually have very few needs. The important needs are shelter, food, water, health (mental, physical, spiritual), and safety. By focusing on our important needs, we can teach ourselves to live on less money. And the next time we are lured by an advertisement or we see something that a friend bought and we would like to have one, too, we just ask ourselves if that item is one of the important needs. Chances are, it isn’t….it’s an object or some type of a “want”, but it isn’t a necessity.

Once we can identify the differences between a “need” and a “want”, the consumer-driven lifestyle will fall to the wayside. At that point, everything seems so much simpler. Have you heard the phrase “a simple life”? People have been doing this for centuries.

When we have changed our mindset, our goals change and everything becomes simpler. And honestly, we CAN live on less.

Live Simply

We Are Living In Difficult Times

In the past decade, Americans have witnessed extreme situations that have threatened many of us.  We have seen bad weather conditions and weather-related catastrophic events like Superstorm Sandy. We have all seen the increase in violence, too, from the inner city to the rural regions. Man-made disasters and natural disasters threaten us and both are increasing in occurrence and in severity.

We are living in difficult times and the problems they cause can be overwhelming. We cannot escape many of the difficulties but we can brace, and plan, for them. Dangers lurk around every corner and we’re continually bombarded with them now.  It’s a doom-and-gloom point of view but it is our reality.  I have said before, we are at The End Of The World As We Know It. Truly — it’s arrived.

Threats from weather, civil unrest, terrorism, financial problems, pandemics, drought, government and corporate corruption — these threats affect all of us. And when a possible threat becomes a reality, the effects are seen throughout our society.

As our society becomes more complex, the systems which interact with one another will often fail now — all because of the interdependency that has created the complexity. Think of these inter-connected systems as spokes on a wheel. When one spoke breaks, the wheel continues to roll along. But when several spokes break, the wheel is weakened.  So the threats that we sometimes face and the dangerous situations which are sometimes forced upon us can create problems. And those problems  leave us without resources or with broken down systems that cause a new set of problems: one problem creates another problem.

In the case of Superstorm Sandy, the disaster has been devastating for some disaster victims and tolerable for others, depending on a number of factors like their location or their preparedness. In general though, the end results of Superstorm Sandy have weakened food delivery services, disrupted power grids, caused problems with transportation, contaminated drinking water, destroyed homes, and created medical problems. Whatever the danger or disaster, when something bad occurs, the majority of those affected are forced into situations they often cannot cope with.

Faster and faster the dangers come. We see problems and threats more often. It’s alarming to see the increased frequency of these threats, too. We need to admit that we are living in difficult times. We must learn to help ourselves better. We must protect ourselves better. Having worked for years with disasters through my past employment with FEMA, I can say that the majority of those affected by dangerous situations like disasters were never prepared for them. They were not prepared emotionally, physically, or financially.

Why is this? Why are most Americans ill-prepared for dangerous situations and disaster-related problems? Many people don’t want to worry about the bad-stuff.  And many people believe nothing bad will happen to them. But this is not rational thinking, it’s avoidance behavior. Most people feel helpless, even overwhelmed, when they worry so they tend to ignore what frightens them.  And many people lack the confidence to help themselves. They would rather have someone else, like the Government, help them.  They are offloading personal responsibility and that mindset is a poor choice — I have witnessed first hand how the Government operates and “helps” people. And anyone who is paying attention to the assistance that FEMA has been providing in NJ and NY will agree.

Here’s the deal: we cannot become an even larger Nation of dependents who want the Government to take care of us. It’s foolish. And it’s unsustainable. We must learn to be better prepared and better educated so that we can fend for ourselves and protect our loved ones from dangers and unforeseen disasters.

With our complex society and interdependency, a disaster that does not affect us personally still affect us indirectly. Disasters cost money and lives. If a disaster is a Federally-declared disaster, taxpayers foot the bill. Disasters create additional costs, too. In the Superstorm Sandy, Wall Street was inaccessible. Because the buildings and streets were physically damaged, the global Market had to be shut down — there was no back-up plan. Think about that…  because of poor planning with those-in-charge of New York’s Wall Street location, the entire global investment world was affected. And they want us to trust them with our investments….

The continuing onslaught of disasters and dangerous situations affect us and we react to them.   A natural or man-made disaster always forces a reaction by anyone who has been affected, but the end results vary depending upon the person affected.  It is up to the victim to decide whether to be better prepared the next time.  Disaster victims don’t always learn hard lessons — some will become proactive towards preparedness and self-reliance and some will not. It’s about individualism and the mindset.

Aside from disasters, there are also many serious situations that can threaten us, too.  We are living in difficult times and none of us care for it but we cannot escape it. Our current economic situation is a threat that we all experience, directly or indirectly. The Federal Reserve is creating money out of thin air, the devalued housing market has eroded family wealth, and the underfunded retirement liabilities pose a threat to retirement plans. Because we are all affected by these problems, directly or indirectly, there is a mood across portions of America that has evolved, especially since our financial mess became publicly known in 2008. Many Americans distrust our government more than before. Many of us have no faith in our banking system. And we have learned to be skeptical of most broadcast news.  About half of our country realizes that we are living in difficult times now. Our attitudes have changed and this has influenced our outlook. Then there is the other half of our country who want a bigger, more protective Government. And they want free stuff. And they don’t want to work.

What we witnessed on Election Night was the evidence of societal change.

We are a Nation that is divided. We are a split group. We are a society of workers and takers. And it won’t balance out correctly. Even if Obama and his followers keep pushing their divisiveness while they also tout “social justice” and all of those other “justice” causes. This societal change is not just dangerous, it’s disastrous.

Many publications have been written on societal change, specifically about the evolution of societies, the rise and fall of societies, and how civilizations actually fail. One book that has gained attention over the past decade is The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Authors Strauss and Howe predict our future based upon our past and the historical cycles in other countries. Well worth reading, The Fourth Turning offers much about our destiny and how we might better prepare for what is inevitable.

“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden spark will catalyze a Crisis mood. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardship will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.” – Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning

If you haven’t read The Fourth Turning, please do. Prepare yourself.

Although we are living in difficult times, it will get worse — much worse. But even though it will be difficult — even bleak — we can become more self-reliant so that we can help ourselves as best as we can. Many of us know that we can improve our lives and our lifestyles, and sometimes, we simply need reminders for encouragement. Let’s all become better prepared to protect ourselves and our families so that these difficult times are not an overwhelming challenge. Will you join in?

I’ve listed some basic steps that can help us prepare to become less dependent and more self-reliant. A blog post, a hand-written journal, or an ongoing action-item list can help each of us become actively engaged in more self-reliance as we prepare for any disaster that heads our way.

  • Define your goals towards self-reliance and prioritize them. This is the backbone of your “plan”.
  • Become action-oriented. Lay out your “plan” to achieve those goals.
  • Establish a time-table, if possible, and strive to achieve each of those goals. Expect results and try not to procrastinate.
  • Have a positive attitude.
  • Learn to adapt to a variety of situations.
  • Assess your personal skill-set, then identify some new skills that could be beneficial. Check your “plan” to see if there are any new skills that might help you further your goals.
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Determine the necessities required for your “plan” to succeed.  Do you need a pantry for stored foods?
  • Create a ‘wish list’ for items that will help you achieve your “plan”. Do you need a shed for storage?
  • Be active, both physically and mentally.
  • Engage your “plan” daily. Perhaps a checklist will help you to achieve a goal.
  • Remember what is truly important.
  • Garden!
  • Plant a garden, increase the size of your garden, add in (or start) edibles that are perennial  (come back every year)
  • Plant a fruit tree, or plant several. Remember to plant fruit bushes and nut trees if time, money, and space allows
  • Learn to preserve foods: water bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, freezing.
  • Buy extra food for the pantry: purchase food in bulk, or simply extra cans of foods to put away in the pantry
  • Store extra water
  • Keep basic medical supplies for emergency situations
  • Inventory tools, add necessary tools.

We are indeed living in difficult times. We can learn to adapt to many scenarios. We can also learn how to cope with many of the dangerous situations as long as we become better prepared to do so. Some of the preparedness involves training yourself and your mindset. And some of the preparedness requires us to plan for our personal needs and safety.

Remember to strive for “safe, sanitary, and secure” and use this as a personal checkpoint during an emergency, if needed. Are you and your home safe? Is your location sanitary? Is your home secure? You and your household’s personal safety are of utmost importance.

Knowing you are safe, your secondary items of importance are water and food. We must have these to survive! We must always remember to keep extra items on hand — just in case. We must have extra foods put away so we may eat. We must have an adequate quantity of stored water (roughly, 1 gallon of water per person per day). We also must stock some basic medical supplies and medication.

We are living in difficult times. Let’s all become more independent and self-reliant. Our lives really do depends upon it!

Caution: Change Ahead

Yep, we arrived.

We got there.

(You did too.)

We’ve all reached that destination many refer to as TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It).

We’re okay. How about you? We’re adapting as best as we are able to. We’ve met difficulties head-on and it seems that as soon as we make a few changes, here it comes again!

So adapting to “new ground rules” has become our new normal.  Now we try to look at the ever-changing economy as an enormous challenge we’ll try to prepare for. For us, investment strategies have changed, retirement plans have changed — in short, our finances have changed. And these things are changing our outlook on the future. Politics, legislation, corporate greed have been instrumental in each of these changes and it has all been forced upon us. And we see more forceful changes ahead, too. The signs are all there, here are just a few, none of them are good.

The National debt has now exceeded $16 trillion dollars.

The SNAP food stamp program broke yet-another record recently: 46.7 million people in America are now receiving benefits.

Unemployment continues to hover above 8%. Of course that’s the lower U3 rate provided by the BLS which does not include the underemployed or those who have given up and no longer looking for a job. A more appropriate unemployment number is the BLS U6 rate.

So how about those jobs? President Obama keeps saying that he has created millions of jobs. Millions! Thankfully, the Federal Reserve Economic Data realizes it can’t fudge their bean-counting. The fact is there has only been a net gain of 300,000 over the course of the Obama administration to date.

And it should come as no surprise to learn that the US has slipped down for the 4th year in a row in the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 just published. The US is now ranked at #7, dropping from the #5 position this year.

Our competitive edge is a measurement of our productivity and we know we’re losing. We’re not only unable to compete in the global market, our civilian labor force is now 63.5%, the lowest level in decades.

Forbes wrote that 165 million Americans are dependents of the State:

New research from Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions (R-AL) reveals that this reality may already be here, with more than 107 million Americans on some form of means-tested government welfare.

Add to that 46 million seniors collecting Medicare (subtracting out about 10 million on Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and other senior-eligible programs already included in Sessions’ means-tested chart) and 22 million government employees at the federal, state, and local level — and suddenly, over 165 million people, a clear majority of the 308 million Americans counted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010, are at least partially dependents of the state.

Personal wealth has decreased more than 30% in recent years, and home values have plummeted more than 35%, too.

So it comes as no surprise that the number of persons living at or below the poverty level has increased. And as the poverty rate increased, incomes decreased. The real median household income has fallen another 4.8 percent since we were told that we’re really in “an economic recovery.”

Recovery? What recovery? Americans are being lied to and manipulated like never before.

This is not the America I know.

And honestly, this is not how America has ever been. But this is our new America — the old America is lost.

Last August I wrote Are We There Yet? noting some of the Nation’s changes and how they have negatively impacted our household.  Since then, we have tried to stay a step ahead of the inevitable.  We see the signs. We’ve tightened our seat belts as best as we can, but what we see isn’t just a crash that’s ahead of us. We see something worse, much worse. We see a collapse of our economy and we think it’s going to get chaotic, then frantic, then desperate and dangerous.

Long ago, we stopped listening to “corporate mainstream news” on television. Worse than the blatant political bias on the news stations is the lack of truth being reported about global economic collapse.  The news stations are not altruistic, they are for-profit corporations that service themselves and the corporate world they are attached to.  They are part of a corrupt system that shapes opinions and ideology. They manipulate us. And they make big-money to do this. To intentionally hide important events or negative reports is unethical, yet this is what the networks do. They decide what we need to know in the hopes that they can manipulate or lull us into further complacency. Fortunately, through the Internet, we learn the reality about the poor economy and how it is dangerously tied into the downturn of the global economy.

Greece, Spain, Italy — members of the European Union —  are showing the world what the reality of our economic system is, but the news stations have blacked it out. In Spain, people are taking their money and leaving. They know the panic and desperation that will lead to looting and riots in the streets. A few weeks ago, activists looted supermarkets and distributed food to the unemployed and hungry people who were unable to buy or grow their own food.

Some Americans don’t understand what lies ahead but make no mistake — people see the signs, people sense danger is ahead of us.

For now, all that we can do is try to prepare for the change ahead of us. We have set some revised plans into motion, but even these plans can change. There are forces much mightier than we are, so we remain cautious while we plan for some of these inevitable changes.

We grow as much food as we are able to. We eat in-season. We preserve foods to last us through the year. We cook with wood on occasion. We turn out the lights at night and use solar lanterns instead. We chop wood to heat our home. We do our own construction and repairs. We’re debt-free and we live simply. We unplug from the many gadgets and gismos that are unnecessary. And we discover new “old ways” of doing things, learning from those who lived before us in times gone by.

We look back to the Great Depression and try to understand history and how people survived that economic disaster. We wonder how society will be re-molded as those who say they are The Ones In Power have planned. The only path we know is the path of self-reliance on our homestead.  And so we continue on, making some adjustments along the way. We plan and prepare for the ever-changing government and economic system we live in. I hope you are, too.

Harry Browne once wrote, “When you know that you’re capable of dealing with whatever comes, you have the only security the world has to offer.”

Adding Foods Into The Pantry

When the economy worsened and our weather patterns affected our garden harvests, we made some homestead changes. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen so much financial chaos that we had to face the facts and redefine normalcy. We have seen home values plummet, gas prices rise, insurance costs increase, and the price of store-bought food increase by as much as 50% in a short period of time.  We have seen how the food industry has used short-sizing to keep prices constant while the unit price of food escalated.  Food is costing more to purchase and to make it all even worse, there have been predictions of food shortages on some of our commodities like wheat and corn. There was no doubt about it — a  food crisis was coming.

So we made some changes and we have accepted the fact that the life we had grown accustomed to had changed.  Some call this TEOTWAWKI, or The End Of The World As We Know It, and rather than moan about it or fear it, we are adapting to it. We have approached this by investing more in ourselves and in our homestead.  We have made some changes in how we garden, too.

We grow foods to eat fresh from the garden while it’s in season. We also preserve some of our garden harvest to eat at a later time. We are growing more food now and we are preserving more food now. Because of this, we have changed the way we preserve and store foods.

We also changed the way we stock our pantry.  Just in case. Rather than run low or deplete many of our home-canned foods during the Winter, we decided it would be smarter to never run low or run out of those home-canned foods.

By adding more foods into the pantry, we needed to be more attentive with our stored food. We have also learned how to budget our time so that we could meet our goals on a long-term basis. Instead of preserving foods to hold us over Winter, our goal has been to preserve more foods so that we will have an ample quantity of foods that we can use in the Spring. And even into Summer and Fall, if necessary.

To accomplish this, we increased our garden size and we installed a large rainwater tank for garden watering so that we could grow more food.  Just in case. We also decided that we would add in more foods by home canning more, dehydrating more, and freezing more.  Canning this and canning that, even a few jars at a time, adds up.

At that time, we also began to buy dry foods in bulk.  We are unable to grow our own rice, sugar, and wheat at this time so those are a few of the items that we buy. Now we buy them in bulk quantity. We learned how economical it was to buy certain foods in bulk and in time, we found that by reorganizing and decluttering we had enough space to store dry foods long term.

We also began to buy dry beans in bulk. We grow several varieties of beans to dry each year but we decided that we needed to purchase beans in bulk so that we could store them for the long term. Just in case.

As our economy has continued to disappoint most Americans and food inflation has affected everyone’s food budget, we realized it will only get worse. So we began to buy foods for tomorrow with today’s dollars. In brief, we see that a financial invest in foods has a better return than a financial investment in stocks or even in a money market account.

One year ago, on January 19, 2011, I wrote, “… are any of us getting more concerned? In 2009 and 2010, our household made some changes to our personal food supply.  We began making bulk purchases of dry goods, increasing our own future food supply while it was still “affordable.”  The decision was a good one and we not only saved money, we saved time because our food supply system became our own little grocery store. We purchased dried foods like grains, beans, sugar, and rice in 25 pound and 50 pound bags. As we used them, we bought more. We cycled our bulk foods much as we cycled our canned goods, using the oldest foods first. We grew our food storage system until we met the food storage goal of 1 year’s supply of food for our household.”

We met that goal, and then we increased our food storage for a longer term. Our outlook on the future is much different today than it was a decade ago. All of the exciting retirement plans have vanished. Our investment strategy has changed from having typical retirement plans to personal investment strategies. And given the uncertainty in global finance, the best investment we have found has been food. Well, okay….precious metals, too….

There are weeks when we might purchase a 50-pound bag of white rice or a 25-pound bag of wheat berries. There are also weeks when we may only purchase a 1-pound bag of dry beans. It all adds up and contributes to our food storage. Like money in the bank … but a glass jar of beans is prettier than a bank statement, now isn’t it?  :-)

So we are storing dry foods like rice, wheat berries, and beans.  Beans are an excellent pantry item and they are very easy to store for a long time. We have dry beans in buckets, cans, glass jars, and large plastic containers. Besides, a small cupboard or shelf of colorful dry beans is like food art.

Dry beans are my favorite pantry food.  Packed with protein and inexpensive to purchase, dry beans offer great nutritional value without too much difficulty in storing them. Dry beans can be stored in a pantry for decades. Then they can be reconstituted and cooked or preserved by pressure-canning them.  Dry beans can be safely stored in 5-gallon food buckets if they are sealed in mylar bags. Dry beans can be safely stored in glass jars. Dry beans can also be stored in large plastic jars or vacuum-sealed bags. The estimated length of storage for dry beans that are sealed in mylar bags inside of sealed food-grade buckets is about 30 years. I have learned by experience that dry beans can be stored in well-sealed glass jars for 20+ years. Isn’t that incredible?

Have you got a spare glass jar and lid? Do you have an empty, lidded plastic jar?

Fill it up with a pound of dry beans and add it to your pantry.

There’s no time like the present to add some extra food into your food pantry.

Are We There Yet?

Crisis after crisis is what we see now. And no wonder — we are in a continuing economic downturn. Food inflation is here. Energy costs continue to rise. Unemployment is still above 9% nationwide, even though true unemployment is much higher.  The housing  market is very depressed. Wall Street is affected by all of the economic uncertainty and the repeating whipsaw performance is an important indicator. Jobs, what jobs? Businesses have folded. Savings have dwindled. Investments have been devalued. And lest we forget, the U.S. has been downgraded. Literally.

We are in a National free-fall. Congress has failed us. The President has failed us. No wonder the Consumer Confidence is down and the only thing going ‘up’ are jobless claims.

Going, going….Are we there yet?

Empty homes in foreclosure plague every town in America. Abandoned storefronts devalue the strip malls but they remain empty.  Encampments for the homeless and sanctioned Tent Cities are popping up in many states. Vacant factory buildings loom above us like the haunting ghosts in our nightmares. Yes, nightmares because most of us are frightened by what we see. We know these are not just signs, but the symptoms of our failing economic system and the enormous government that created it all. We are heading towards the second Great Depression and it will be much worse than the first Depression. Think Apocalypse.

Wikipedia offers: An Apocalypse (Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis; “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”) is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John (Greek Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰωάννου) is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. By extension, apocalypse can refer to any End Time scenario, or to the end of the world in general. It is a major misconception that Apocalypse means the end of the world; it is much closer to “the end of the world as we know it.”

That’s right, “..something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception.” So like it or not, this is going to be our new world: the world of the economic decay as it has eroded our Nation. One article, entitled “American Hellholes” explains:

All over the nation many of our greatest cities are being slowly but surely transformed into post-apocalyptic wastelands.  All over the mid-Atlantic, all along the Gulf coast, all throughout the “rust belt” and all over the entire state of California cities that once had incredibly vibrant economies are being turned into rotting, post-industrial hellholes. In many U.S. cities, the “real” rate of unemployment is over 30 percent. There are some communities that will start depressing you almost the moment that you drive into them. It is almost as if all of the hope has been sucked right out of those communities.  If you live in one of those American hellholes you know what I am talking about.  Sadly, it is not just a few cities that are becoming hellholes.  This is happening in the east, in the west, in the north and in the south.  America is literally being transformed right in front of our eyes.

We did not knowingly do this to ourselves — much of this was forced upon us. We were tricked, lied to, coerced, and fooled. And taxed. And taxed some more. And taxed ad infinitum. And we shut-up-about-it.

The jobs are going, going, gone and although America led the Industrial Revolution to riches and prosperity, that prosperity was given to other countries.  Somewhere along the line, our National allegiance and job ethics were misplaced and moved elsewhere, namely to Third World and Communist countries where labor can be bought for mere pennies.

We know the political and corporate elitists who have legislated the U.S. through an ever-expanding Federal government enabled this unfair shift in doing business. We need to look no further than to those who control the Federal Reserve to realize how currency and the economy are manipulated. We have the same elitists and the Federal government who are actively dismissing the U.S. Constitution while promoting the global agendas of the U.N.

Despite the fact that globalism has destroyed jobs, businesses, and national wealth, even the global economy is in jeopardy now says Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank. Ironic, isnt’ it? Yet globalism will continue on the self-destructive path to devalue and destroy.

To think that America is becoming a devalued Nation is peculiar. We have never been in that position before, but we have been a target for many and have recently been told that we are no longer exceptional. Our current President even said so.

We have been intentionally devalued. We have been reduced down. The U.S. is weaker, even Walmart warns of this problem. Some economists admit our only choices out of our enormous debt problem are to: 1) inflate, 2) default or 3) devalue, which is similar to inflate.

Like it or not, we are there. We have arrived.

Howard  Marks, billionaire hedge fund owner, admits, “In addition to balancing the budget and growing the economy, I think we have to accept that the coming decades are likely to see U.S. standards of living decline relative to the rest of the world. Unless our goods offer a better cost/benefit bargain, there’s no reason why American workers should continue to enjoy the same lifestyle advantage over workers in other countries. I just don’t expect to hear many politicians own up to this reality on the stump.”

Our jobs were stolen and given to other countries. Our resources are being sold on-the-cheap right before our eyes. Our comfortable lives that we worked hard to create have been threatened or ruined. Our life-plans are being reduced to nothing while our taxes are increasing.

Empty rhetoric and the lack of civility is what we get from most politicians now, not discourse or solutions. And instead of action and leadership, we are offered the blame-game as the answer to America’s many problems. Old. Tiring. That tactic has become a full-time occupation at the White House, even while on that infamous campaign trail.  Act like a President or just go play golf ’til 2012.

Economic problems and joblessness are turning into anger and civil unrest. American cities really are turning into hellholes and it’s spilling over into the suburbs and countryside.  There is little hope but lots of change.  Not change we want, nor change we can believe in. That fundamental change Obama promised is known as Socialism and, well, most Americans really don’t want to go there.

Last week’s Washington Post poll revealed that 3/4 of Americans are dissatisfied with the way this country’s political system is working and that the Federal Government are focused on the wrong things. No shocker there….

People are disgusted. People are starting to grow angry. People have lost jobs, savings, investments, and they see their futures are bleak. They know it because they have been affected and forced to take the journey that brought them here, into today’s world.

Are we there yet? I know our family is there and we acknowledge it. We’ve reached that destination many refer to as TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It).

Are you there yet? Are you ready to acknowledge TEOTWAWKI yet?