Thursday, December 27, 2012

States May Want To Go Over Fiscal Cliff?

States May Want To Go Over Fiscal Cliff
Financial guru Karl Denninger makes an interesting point:
Falling off the "fiscal cliff" is a bad thing, right? Not necessarily for some state governments that could begin collecting more in estate taxes on wealth left to heirs if the United States goes over the "cliff," allowing sharp tax increases and federal spending cuts to take effect in January.

In an example of federal and state tax law interaction that gets little notice on Capitol Hill, 30 states next year could collect $3 billion more in estate taxes if Congress and President Barack Obama do not act soon, estimated the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

The reason? The federal estate tax would return with a vengeance and so would a federal credit system that shares a portion of it with the 30 states. They had been getting their cut of this tax revenue stream until the early 2000s. That was when the credit system for payment of state estate tax went away due to tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush.

With the return of the credit system next year as part of the "cliff," states such as Florida, Colorado and Texas -- which have not collected estate tax since 2004 -- could resume doing so. California Gov. Jerry Brown has already begun to add the anticipated estate tax revenue into his plans, including $45 million of it in his 2012-2013 revised budget.

Brown may or may not be jumping the gun.

CLOUDY CLIFF AHEAD

The outlook on the "fiscal cliff" coming up at year-end is uncertain. President Barack Obama has said he hopes for a last-minute deal to avert it. That would need to get done soon, with Congress just now coming back from its holiday break.

Chances of an agreement became more remote last week after Republicans in the House fumbled their own legislative attempt to prevent the fiscal jolt that economists say could trigger a recession. (Read More: Boehner Abruptly Scraps 'Plan B' Vote in Setback)

House Speaker John Boehner abruptly adjourned the chamber for the holidays after failing to gather the votes from within his own party to pass legislation he and other Republicans had drafted, after walking out of negotiations with Obama. (Read More: Obama Cuts Vacation Short to Deal With Fiscal Crisis)

Weeks of inconclusive political drama over the "cliff" have focused largely on individual income tax rates and spending on federal programs such Medicare and Social Security, but many tax issues are also involved, including the estate tax.

At the moment, under laws signed a decade ago by Bush, the estate tax is applied to inherited assets at a rate of 35 percent after a $5 million exemption. That means a deceased person can pass on an inheritance of up to $5 million before any tax applies. Inherited wealth passed to a spouse or a federally recognized charity is generally not taxed.

Obama wants to raise the rate to 45 percent after a $3.5 million exemption. Republicans have called for complete repeal of the estate tax, which they call the "death tax," though Boehner earlier this month called for freezing the estate tax at its present level. It was difficult to determine what the Republicans want after last week's events in the House.

STATES STAND TO GAIN

If Congress and Obama do not act by Dec. 31, numerous Bush-era tax laws will expire, including the one on estate taxes. That would mean the estate tax rate will shoot up next year to the pre-Bush levels of 55 percent after a $1 million exemption.

It would also mean that for the first time in years, a portion of that estate tax would go to the states, through the return of the credit system.

Under that old law, estates paying the tax could get a credit against their federal tax bill for state estate tax payments of up to 16 percent of the estate's value.

If the fiscal cliff were allowed to take hold unaltered by Washington, 30 states would again automatically begin getting their share of federal estate taxes. The state laws are generally written so the state estate tax amounts are calculated under a formula based on the amount of the federal credit.

This would help states that have struggled with lower tax revenues since the 2007-2009 financial crisis and resulting recession, according to research by the Pew Center on the States, though painful federal spending cut backs would also hurt the states.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ron Paul On Sandy Hook And Gun Control

Ron Paul On Sandy Hook And Gun Control
In a beautiful article posted on his House of Representatives website, Congressman Ron Paul defends the right to bear arms in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy and rebuts NRA President Wayne LaPierre's knee-jerk response to pubic pressure for gun control:
The senseless and horrific killings last week in Newtown, Connecticut reminded us that a determined individual or group of individuals can cause great harm no matter what laws are in place.  Connecticut already has restrictive gun laws relative to other states, including restrictions on fully automatic, so-called “assault” rifles and gun-free zones.

Predictably, the political left responded to the tragedy with emotional calls for increased gun control.  This is understandable, but misguided. The impulse to have government “do something” to protect us in the wake national tragedies is reflexive and often well intentioned.  Many Americans believe that if we simply pass the right laws, future horrors like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting can be prevented.  But this impulse ignores the self evident truth that criminals don't obey laws.

The political right, unfortunately, has fallen into the same trap in its calls for quick legislative solutions to gun violence.  If only we put armed police or armed teachers in schools, we’re told, would-be school shooters will be dissuaded or stopped.

While I certainly agree that more guns equals less crime and that private gun ownership prevents many shootings, I don’t agree that conservatives and libertarians should view government legislation, especially at the federal level, as the solution to violence.  Real change can happen only when we commit ourselves to rebuilding civil society in America, meaning a society based on family, religion, civic and social institutions, and peaceful cooperation through markets.  We cannot reverse decades of moral and intellectual decline by snapping our fingers and passing laws.

Let’s not forget that our own government policies often undermine civil society, cheapen life, and encourage immorality.  The president and other government officials denounce school violence, yet still advocate for endless undeclared wars abroad and easy abortion at home.  U.S. drone strikes kill thousands, but nobody in America holds vigils or devotes much news coverage to those victims, many of which are children, albeit, of a different color.
Obviously I don’t want to conflate complex issues of foreign policy and war with the Sandy Hook shooting, but it is important to make the broader point that our federal government has zero moral authority to legislate against violence.

Furthermore, do we really want to live in a world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray scanners, and warrantless physical searches?  We see this culture in our airports: witness the shabby spectacle of once proud, happy Americans shuffling through long lines while uniformed TSA agents bark orders.  This is the world of government provided "security," a world far too many Americans now seem to accept or even endorse.  School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America.

Do we really believe government can provide total security?  Do we want to involuntarily commit every disaffected, disturbed, or alienated person who fantasizes about violence?  Or can we accept that liberty is more important than the illusion of state-provided security? Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place.  Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives.  We shouldn’t settle for substituting one type of violence for another. Government role is to protect liberty, not to pursue unobtainable safety.

Our freedoms as Americans preceded gun control laws, the TSA, or the Department of Homeland Security.  Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference, not by safety. It is easy to clamor for government security when terrible things happen; but liberty is given true meaning when we support it without exception, and we will be safer for it.

Back To Reality: Tough Economic Future For Generation Y

Back To Reality: Tough Economic Future For Generation YLast week, Bloomberg's Elliot Blair Smith penned a somber account of young Americans' economic future:

American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals 

After being dismissed from her job as a Midtown Manhattan securities attorney in October 2009, Christina Tretter-Herriger hitched a used horse trailer to her Dodge Ram pickup and drove 1,628 miles to Texas.

The 32-year-old lawyer sold skin-care products in Houston before finding work as the assistant general counsel of a futures-trading firm where an irate customer punctuated a recorded voice-mail message with gunfire.

“No one was left with the impression that he just happened to be phoning from a sporting clays range,” she says.

Eighteen months and two busted jobs later, the daughter of a retired physician and a former editor at Vogue circled back to upstate New York and hunkered down at a small legal office that pays about one-quarter of her former $165,000 salary.

Generation Y professionals entering the workforce are finding careers that once were gateways to high pay and upwardly mobile lives turning into detours and dead ends. Average incomes for individuals ages 25 to 34 have fallen 8 percent, double the adult population’s total drop, since the recession began in December 2007. Their unemployment rate remains stuck one-half to 1 percentage point above the national figure.

Three and a half years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, the earnings and employment gap between those in the under-35 population and their parents and grandparents threatens to unravel the American dream of each generation doing better than the last. The nation’s younger workers have benefited least from an economic recovery that has been the most uneven in recent history.

‘Permanently Depressed’ 

“This generation will be permanently depressed and will be on a lower path of income for probably all of their life -- and at least the next 10 years,” says Rutgers professor Cliff Zukin, a senior research fellow at the university’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Professionals who start out in jobs other than their first choice tend to stay on the alternative path, earning less than they would have otherwise while becoming less likely to start over again later in preferred fields, Zukin says.

Michael Greenstone, who was chief economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers in 2009 and 2010, says the shift to a downwardly mobile society may be lasting. “Children are not earning as much as their parents, and I think we’re laying the seeds for that to continue into the future,” he says.

Only one-fifth of those who graduated college since 2006 expect greater success than their parents, a Rutgers survey found earlier this year. Little more than half were working full time. Just one in five said their job put them on a career path.

Disappearing Jobs 

Those who finish only high school or drop out fare worse. Almost four out of five jobs destroyed by the recession were held by workers with a high school diploma or less, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
Middle-income jobs are disappearing for a wide range of young professionals. The number of financial counselors and loan officers ages 25 to 34 has dropped 40 percent since 2007, outpacing the 30 percent drop in total jobs for the profession, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Similarly, the number of hours logged by first-year and mid-level legal associates -- a productivity measure of young lawyers -- fell 12 percent from 2007 at some of New York’s largest law firms, says Jeff Grossman, national managing director of Wells Fargo Private Bank’s Legal Specialty Group in Charlotte, North Carolina. Yet profits per partner climbed $50,697 to $1.5 million on revenue of $66 billion last year, according to a separate survey of 86 of the world’s top law firms by The American Lawyer magazine.

Lost Faith 

“I had a lot of faith in the system, the mythology that if you work really hard you can achieve anything, and the stock market always goes up,” says 2009 law school graduate Elizabeth Hallock, 33. “It was pretty na├»ve on my part.”

Hallock is the named plaintiff in one of 14 lawsuits against some of the nation’s best-known law schools, including her alma mater, the University of San Francisco School of Law. The civil complaints, filed in 2011 and 2012, accuse the institutions of overstating graduates’ job-placement results and incomes.

Young Americans are struggling to reconcile their lack of economic rewards with their relatively privileged upbringings by Baby Boomer parents and the material success of their older peers, Generation X, born in the late 1960s and 1970s, says Kathy Sheehan, general manager of GfK Consumer Trends and Roper Reports, a unit of German-based research firm GfK.

Great Expectations 

“It’s a generation that had really high expectations, in some part driven by the way they were raised by their boomer parents,” she says. “Yet in the past five years they have had reality slammed in their face by the employment situation.”

About 61 million people, one-fifth of the U.S. population, work at jobs where median earnings declined since 2007 even as the 1.2 million households whose incomes put them in the top 1 percent saw their pay rise 5.5 percent last year. Younger workers are experiencing the worst of the disparity in part because they’re being displaced by older workers. The number of employees ages 55 to 64 is expected to surpass the under-24 working population by 2020 for the first time since at least World War II, according to the BLS.

Dashed expectations crimped even some of the most innovative corners of the economy. Daniel White was wrapping up a week-long vacation to Vermont two summers ago when a co-worker at Chicago-based Groupon Inc. (GRPN) called to share the news that White was about to be fired from the e-commerce discounter.

Father’s Power 

The 27-year-old business school graduate was living from paycheck to paycheck, cold-calling hair salons and pizza parlors in Youngstown, Ohio, from crowded offices at company headquarters when he found himself out on the street.

“To be honest, I’m glad it happened,” he says. “I guess I owe that to Steve Jobs, who made getting fired cool.”

This year, White says, he hopes to earn $2,000 at his own startup Web-sales venture in Burlington, Vermont, seeing technology as the one path to potentially matching his father’s generation, “the people with the money and power.”

In more traditional jobs, the fallout from the subprime- mortgage collapse a half-decade ago continues to pummel people, including the architects who designed homes. The number of them ages 25 to 34 has fallen by 41 percent since 2007, compared with the total drop in the profession of 25 percent.

At the Seattle architectural firm of Callison LLC, faces and names began to disappear from the staff directory almost immediately after new hire Eli Hardi joined in January 2008.

Smaller Paychecks 

“People would drop off on a daily basis,” says Hardi, 28, a recent graduate of a five-year architecture degree program in California. Within a few months, Hardi rose from an hourly to salaried position. The promotion wiped out overtime pay and reduced his annual income by 12 percent to $39,500, he says.

The smaller paycheck reflected cost-cutting that has erased 40 percent of U.S. architectural firms’ revenue and almost one- third of their personnel since early 2008, according to the American Institute of Architects in Washington.

Hardi worked through Christmas and New Year’s before being laid off during the first week of January 2009, 13 months after his hiring. He walked home in the cold to his apartment and new big-screen TV that was now a symbol of his uprooted ambitions.

“It’s a bit sudden, a bit jarring,” he says. Still, “there’s a certain sense of relief that you don’t have to deal with the sword hanging over your head. I almost felt worse for the people who had to stay, knowing they might lose their jobs.”

Highest Unemployment 

Architecture graduates ages 25 to 29 had the highest unemployment rate of 57 degree programs surveyed by the Education Department in 2009. Their 9.6 percent jobless level rivaled the 10.6 percent unemployment for all Americans ages 25 to 29 that year, including those without college degrees. Nursing fared the best with a 1.5 percent jobless rate.
Hardi was called back, at his previous salary, in January 2010 as Callison won store-design work for Apple Inc. (AAPL).

“The hours were long, the pay was low and we got a notice saying the bonus would be minimal,” he says. “The hardest part, I found, is to maintain your own self respect and dignity.” In March, he quit to join a smaller firm where he works on historical renovations.
The same housing crash that hammered young architects and loan officers also slammed lawyers. Law schools are turning out about 45,000 degree holders a year for about 25,000 full-time positions available to them, according to the National Association for Law Placement Inc. in Washington. The class of 2011 had the lowest placement with law firms, 49.5 percent, in 36 years.

Tougher Path 

“It is not the perfect path to wealth and success that people may have envisioned,” says Robin Sparkman, editor in chief of The American Lawyer magazine in New York.
Some of the disenchanted have taken their complaints to court. Plaintiffs’ attorneys and recent law-school graduates are pushing to change what they call law schools’ overstated reports of post-graduation employment numbers. The results are used in magazine rankings of the institutions and to recruit new applicants. In state-court lawsuits, the former students allege false advertising and consumer fraud.

The claims are “meritless,” says Angie Davis, spokeswoman for the University of San Francisco School of Law. “We are sympathetic to the difficulty faced by law school graduates nationwide in finding employment on the heels of the Great Recession,” she says, adding the university helps students find work, and many have found “successful, rewarding careers.”

Contested Lawsuits 

With the lawsuits playing out, the Chicago-based American Bar Association began requiring accredited schools to disclose far more detailed information about new graduates’ employment beginning in December 2011.

This July, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn allowed lawsuits against USF and Golden Gate University to proceed, ruling that some law-school graduates may have a basis for claims that they were deceived. Judges in Illinois and Michigan rejected similar complaints.

“It’s hard to look at the information the schools were putting out and say it’s not misleading,” says Derek Tokaz, research director of the nonprofit Law School Transparency initiative. It published research showing that the chance of recent graduates getting permanent full-time work in law was far lower than the 80-95 percent total employment rates the schools typically boasted.

Lehman Fallout 

Tokaz, 28, worked with Tretter-Herriger at the Manhattan law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP. She joined the firm in September 2008, the same month that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, gradually setting off panic on Wall Street and around the world.

The late nights and long weeks awaited by first-year associates as a grueling rite of passage didn’t come, she says. Instead, there was so little work to do that the hedge fund lawyers and recruiters she worked with frequently retreated after lunch to a street-level pub to watch English soccer.

Tretter-Herriger says she and some other first-year associates were fired 13 months later with the proviso they could keep their desks and look for jobs through October. She found one at the Houston futures trading firm. When it later outsourced some of its legal work, she moved on again and answered an ad on Craigslist for a job in Buffalo, New York.
She now complements her $45,000 lawyer’s salary by training horses and giving riding lessons. She says she’d like to buy a rental property and become self-sufficient in case she loses this job.

“As it is, all of my possessions still fit in the back of my truck,” she says. “I can pack it in a couple hours, pick up the trailer and horses and move anywhere the gas tank will take me at the drop of a hat. What can the system take away from you when you have that kind of freedom?"

Monday, December 24, 2012

Inflation Alert: Gift Prices Skyrocket

Inflation Alert: Gift Prices SkyrocketZeroHedge is a great source of unique economic analysis and brutal honesty. Case in point, take a look at ZH's take on holiday spending. Not much Christmas cheer from those folks:
There are, according to USA Today, 364 items that need to be purchased to create the ultimate gift basket from the epic holiday song "The 12 Days of Christmas". Based on PNC Wealth's Christmas Price index, the cost of this basket is $107,300 in 2012 (up 6.1% year-over-year). Since 2001, when the Fed embarked upon its uber-expansionary monetary policy experiments, the cost of Christmas has risen over 40% faster than the Government's prescribed CPI (and if we use a different cost-base, since 2006, the cost of Christmas has risen 46% per year on average). And on an even more Bah! Humbug note, there is the important economic question of the Deadweight Loss of Christmas - i.e. gift-giving means consumption choices are made by someone other than the final consumer, with potentially sub-optimal micro-economic effects such as a mismatch with the recipient's preferences. This wonderfully positive report finds that between 10% and 33% of the value of gifts 'given' is destroyed through this inefficiency (with cash - or gold - the least impacted?). Happy Holidays, everyone!

Inflation Alert: Gift Prices Skyrocket - gift price inflation chart

The Deadweight Loss Of Christmas - PDF here
Cost of 12 Days of Christmas in 2005/2006 - PDF here

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Senate Takes Time To Censor Alternative Publication

Senate Takes Time To Censor Alternative Publication
The Senate hasn't passed a budget since 2009, but somehow it's found time to pass a bi-partisan resolution telling the alternative publication Village Voice that, because some of its ads for adult entertainment are used to promote illegal activity, the publication should cease publishing any ads for adult entertainment. This is ridiculous, of course. Just like firearms, ads for adult entertainment can be used illegally, but aren't usually used illegally. It's hypocritical to advocate for the right to bear arms on one hand, but advocate for censorship on the other. But that's exactly what some of our esteemed senators have done. From The Hill:
The Senate passed a resolution Thursday night that calls on the newspaper Village Voice “to act as a responsible global citizen” by taking down its “adult entertainment” section of its classified advertising website.

Lawmakers said that website, Backpage.com, ends up promoting child sex trafficking in the United States.

“The numbers are rising, in part because it has become frighteningly simple to order a child prostitute on the Internet. One merely needs to look at the classified ads on Backpage.com, the leading Web site for prostitution advertising in the United States according to the Advanced Interactive Media, AIM, Group,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said when the resolution was adopted by the Senate. “Just a few clicks on this site easily enables ‘johns’ to purchase children for sex. Law enforcement believes that the existence of Backpage encourages the recruitment of victims for sexual exploitation because it allows traffickers to operate out of sight from police patrols.”

Kirk said that experts estimate that each year as many as 300,000 children are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States and cited cases where those prosecuted for such crimes have used Backpage.com to advertise.

“As news reports of pimps and traffickers using Backpage.com to advertise sexual services by minors continue to increase, we cannot leave our children defenseless,” Kirk said. “The profit-first mentality at Village Voice Media, which prioritizes the rights of pimps, not children, must end.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) co-sponsored the measure.

America's Economic Decline In 75 Statistics

America's Economic Decline In 75 Statistics
Michael Snyder of Economic Collapse Blog compiled a lengthy list of unbelievable statistics regarding America's economic decline.
What a year 2012 has been!  The mainstream media continues to tell us what a “great job” the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class.  It is imperative that we educate the American people about the true condition of our economy and about why all of this is happening.  If nothing is done, our debt problems will continue to get worse, millions of jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be suffocated, the middle class will continue to collapse, and poverty in the United States will continue to explode.  Just “tweaking” things slightly is not going to fix our economy.  We need a fundamental change in direction.  Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic “adjustment” that America has ever gone through.  We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done.  Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that I have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.
The end of the year is a time when people tend to gather with family and friends more than they do during the rest of the year.  Hopefully many of you will use the list below as a tool to help start some conversations about the coming economic collapse with your loved ones.  Sadly, most Americans still tend to doubt that we are heading into economic oblivion.  So if you have someone among your family and friends that believes that everything is going to be “just fine”, just show them these numbers.  They are a good summary of the problems that the U.S. economy is currently facing.
The following are 75 economic numbers from 2012 that are almost too crazy to believe...
#1 In December 2008, 31.6 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, a new all-time record of 47.7 million Americans are on food stamps.  That number has increased by more than 50 percent over the past four years, and yet the mainstream media still has the gall to insist that “things are getting better”.
#2 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.
#3 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#4 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all Americans have received money from a safety net program run by the federal government at some point in their lives.
#5 For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.
#6 Median household income in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.
#7 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
#8 The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been under 59 percent for 39 months in a row.
#9 In September 2009, during the depths of the last economic crisis, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed.  In November 2012, 58.7 percent of all working age Americans were employed.  It is more then 3 years later, and we are in the exact same place.
#10 When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job in America today, it comes to more than 100 million.
#11 According to one recent survey, 55 percent of all small business owners in America “say they would not start a business today given what they know now and in the current environment.”
#12 The number of jobs at new small businesses continues to decline.  According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Clinton: 11.2
Bush Jr.: 10.8
Obama: 7.8
#13 The U.S. share of global GDP has fallen from 31.8 percent in 2001 to 21.6 percent in 2011.
#14 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
#15 There are four major U.S. banks that each have more than 40 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.
#16 In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.
#17 According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are.
#18 The Pew Research Center has also found that 85 percent of all middle class Americans say that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.
#19 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
#20 Right now, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
#21 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.
#22 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.
#23 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percentof all men in the United States have jobs.
#24 The average amount of time that an unemployed worker stays out of work in the United States is 40 weeks.
#25 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.
#26 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.
#27 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.  Overall, there are almost 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” that the federal government is currently running.
#28 When you account for all government transfer payments and all forms of government employment, more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government.
#29 Barack Obama has been president for less than four years, and during that time the number of Americans “not in the labor force” has increased by nearly 8.5 million.  Something seems really “off” about that number, because during the entire decade of the 1980s the number of Americans “not in the labor force” only rose by about 2.5 million.
#30 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
#31 According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.
#32 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.
#33 Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.
#34 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.
#35 At this point, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States are good jobs.
#36 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.
#37 Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.
#38 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
#39 One survey of business executives has ranked California as the worst state in America to do business for 8 years in a row.
#40 In the city of Detroit today, more than 50 percent of all children are living in poverty, and close to 50 percent of all adults are functionally illiterate.
#41 It is being projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.
#42 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.
#43 If you can believe it, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.
#44 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  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.
#45 Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion.  That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.
#46 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
#47 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
#48 The U.S. tax code is now more than 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.
#49 According to the IMF, the global elite are holding a total of 18 trillion dollars in offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands.
#50 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.
#51 2012 was the third year in a row that the yield for corn has declined in the United States.
#52 Experts are telling us that global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years.
#53 One recent survey discovered that 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.
#54 If you can believe it, one recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.
#55 Medical costs related to obesity in the United States are estimated to be approximately $147 billion a year.
#56 Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high.  Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP are near an all-time low.
#57 Today, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.
#58 The wealthiest 400 families in the United States have about as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of all Americans combined.
#59 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percentof all Americans combined.
#60 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
#61 Nearly 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.
#62 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year.  Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.
#63 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.
#64 Nearly 15,000 retired federal workers are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  The list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.
#65 U.S. taxpayers spend more than 20 times as much on the Obamas as British taxpayers spend on the royal family.
#66 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.
#67 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.
#68 During fiscal year 2012, 62 percent of the federal budget was spent on entitlements.
#69 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, approximately one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid.
#70 It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#71 Medicare is also growing by leaps and bounds.  As I wrote about recently, it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.
#72 Thanks to our foolish politicians (including Obama), Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.
#73 Amazingly, the U.S. national debt is now up to 16.3 trillion dollars.  When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.
#74 During the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated about as much debt as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.
#75 Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was originally created back in 1913.