We have a deeply held belief in America that if you work hard enough, anything is achievable. This is something built into the core of our nation. If you go back to the Great Depression, while other countries were overturning systems and shifting deeply held ideology, Americans held steady and went out and voted. The system remained with tweaks. Today, the idea of the middle class that emerged after World War II is still held very deeply. Yet there is a clear definition for middle class if we simply look at data. But people think they are middle class if they make $22k or $200k. The median household income in the U.S. is $56,000. That is the middle. Let us look at the figures here.
Venezuela provides a glimpse into the horrors of inflation gone wild: A dozen eggs cost $150 USD as hyper inflation wrecks economy.
The award for worst performing economy in 2016 would likely go to Venezuela. What could possibly go wrong when the government tries to control absolutely everything in a petro state? Apparently everything can go wrong and you now have runaway inflation. At this point Venezuela’s currency is in a death spiral of hyperinflation. A dozen eggs will cost you $150 U.S. dollars. Needless to say people are going without certain items and many people are actually on the verge of starving. So when you have people acting like inflation can never be a bad thing, just look at what is happening in Venezuela. Let us actually see what is going on in the country.
The U.S national debt is quickly approaching $19.5 trillion. It will very likely be there this month. It is hard to comprehend how much this amount is for the average American that is barely trying to get by. But people are starting to wake up. There is a large financial charade going on. Most people realize that their standard of living is being eroded. Anyone outside of coastal regions realizes that many parts of this country are struggling to levels that are not understood by the mainstream press. Their control is slowly being lost. One way to understand the amount of debt we have as a nation is to simply look at in context to how much physical currency is out there.
Americans now spend more on drinking and eating establishments than they do at grocery stores. Over 17 million kids went to college to be waiters or flight attendants.
There are many reasons why so many people now work in the low wage sectors of America. As it turns out, the eating habits of Americans have changed dramatically. Only in the last couple of years have Americans spent more on eating out than they do on actual groceries. Too bad the median annual pay for waiters and waitresses in 2015 was $19,250 with tips included. Companies still haven’t figured out how to outsource servers but our manufacturing base that once provided millions with good paying jobs is completely decimated. It also may have to do with a large number of young Americans living at home. Since homeownership is on the decline with the young, discretionary spending on eating out is up. Way up.
Over the last generation there has been a shift from pensions to do it yourself 401k plans. The idea was pitched during a time when the stock market was in a bull run and Wall Street was excited to open up additional streams of revenue. But now a generation later, the results are rather clear. The 401k has simply not lived up to the promise for millions of Americans. Where pensions had a forced saving mechanism, the 401k with absurd fees, buffet style choices, and complicated structures simply kept many Americans out of the system from investing. This also meant decades of lost compounding and now that millions are entering retirement, they are looking at paltry nest eggs. How did the 401k destroy retirement for millions of Americans?
The wealthiest 10% hold 76% of the wealth: The rich continue to pull away from the rest of the crowd.
Wealth in the U.S. continues to accumulate into fewer hands. A recent Congressional Budget Office report showed that the top 10% of U.S. families now control 76% of total wealth. That is a massive amount considering total family wealth is at $67 trillion. Wealth inequality continues to expand and is creating deeper divides in our political landscape. Consider the other side of the coin where half of U.S. families don’t even own one stock. Is it a good thing that wealth is concentrating in fewer hands? It depends on who you ask but wealth inequality of this level was last seen in the Roaring 20s right before entering into the Great Depression. People forget how quickly fortunes can turn. Yet many Americans today are already struggling deeply financially. The end result is a nation that is frustrated with the system since it doesn’t feel like it represents their needs.
Is College Worth It? The $1.4 trillion question gets harder to answer as a record number of Americans attend universities.
One of the most perplexing questions on the minds of young Americans today is whether college is worth the associated tuition cost. It is rather humbling to see that $1.4 trillion in student debt is outstanding today. That is more than auto debt and credit card debt. College tuition has outpaced virtually every category that is tracked in our inflation measures. It has out run housing prices. It has left healthcare in the dust. It has crushed wages which are stagnant for nearly a generation. The last item is probably the most important measure to examine. If college is worth it, why have wages gone stagnant all the while tuition prices continue to go up? Is it because of federal loans? Is it because of mega complexes being built? Or is there something else going on?