Archive for November 26th, 2012
If Americans will trample one another just to save a few dollars on a television, what will they do when society breaks down and the survival of their families is at stake? Once in a while an event comes along that gives us a peek into what life could be like when the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is stripped away. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey there wasrampant looting and within days people were digging around in supermarket dumpsters looking for food. Sadly, “Black Friday” also gives us a look at how crazed the American people can be when given the opportunity. This year was no exception. Once again we saw large crowds of frenzied shoppers push, shove, scratch, claw, bite and trample one another just to save a few bucks on cheap foreign-made goods. And of course most retailers seem to be encouraging this type of behavior. Most of them actually want people frothing at the mouth and willing to fight one another to buy their goods. But is this kind of “me first” mentality really something that we want to foster as a society? If people are willing to riot to save money on a cell phone, what would they be willing to do to feed their families? Are the Black Friday riots a very small preview of the civil unrest that is coming when society eventually breaks down?
Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was not really a commercial holiday. It was a time to get together with family and friends, eat turkey and express thanks for the blessings that we have been given.
But in recent years Black Friday has started to become even a bigger event than Thanksgiving itself.
Millions of Americans have become convinced that it is fun to wait in long lines outside retail stores in freezing cold weather in the middle of the night to spend money that they do not have on things that they do not need.
And of course very, very few “Black Friday deals” are actually made in America. So these frenzied shoppers are actually killing American jobs and destroying the U.S. economy as well.
The absurdity of Black Friday was summed up very well recently in a statement that has already been retweeted on Twitter more than 1,000 times…
It has gotten to the point where it is now expected that there will be mini-riots all over the country early on Black Friday morning each year. The following are a few examples of the craziness that we saw this year…
Fortunately, many Americans are starting to get fed up with Black Friday. In fact, one activist named Mark Dice actually went out and heckled Black Friday shoppers this year. I found the following You Tube video to be very funny, and I think most of you will too…
In the end, it is not that big of a deal that people want to fight with one another to save 50 dollars on a cell phone.
But this kind of extreme selfishness and desperation could become a massive problem someday if society breaks down and suddenly millions of extremely selfish and desperate people are scrambling for survival.
With each passing day our economy is getting even weaker, and the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching. What are people going to do when the next spike in unemployment hits us and nobody can find work?
To get an idea of where things are headed, just look at Europe. In both Greece and Spain the unemployment rate is over 25 percent and civil unrest has become almost a constant problem in both of those countries.
So what kind of riots will we see in the United States when the economy gets much worse than it is now?
Already there are signs of social decay all around us, and most Americans are completely unprepared for what will happen if a major disaster or emergency does strike.
Sadly, the reality is that most Americans live on a month to month basis. Most families do not have any emergency savings to speak of, and one recent poll found that 55 percent of all Americans only have enough food in their homes to survive for three days or less.
To me, that is an absolutely insane number.
We just came through a summer of extreme drought and global food supplies have dropped to a 40 year low. Our world is becoming increasingly unstable, and the global financial system could fall apart at any time. Most of us just assume that there will always be huge amounts of very cheap food available to us, but unfortunately that simply is not a safe assumption. The following is from a recent article in the Guardian…
Evan Fraser, author of Empires of Food and a geography lecturer at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, says: “For six of the last 11 years the world has consumed more food than it has grown. We do not have any buffer and are running down reserves. Our stocks are very low and if we have a dry winter and a poor rice harvest we could see a major food crisis across the board.”
“Even if things do not boil over this year, by next summer we’ll have used up this buffer and consumers in the poorer parts of the world will once again be exposed to the effects of anything that hurts production.”
When I watch my fellow Americans trample one another to get a deal on a television or a video game, it makes me wonder what they would be willing to do if they went to the store someday and all the food was gone.
Desperate people do desperate things, and someday if there was a major economic breakdown in the United States I think the level of desperation in this country would be extremely frightening.
So what do you think? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased from –0.36 in September to –0.56 in October — its eighth consecutive reading below zero. October’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was below its historical trend.
Now here’s the sidebar….
When the CFNAI-MA3 value moves below –0.70 following a period of economic expansion, there is an increasing likelihood that a recession has begun.
Not “will begin”, has begun.
The problem with this indicator is that it has less predictive value than you’d like; it is more of a coincident indicator than anything else. On the other hand, the Fed Indices I use, when they show a three-month or longer trend of negative prints, tend toindicate recession is inbound.
Take the two together and you’ve got trouble — and in that regard, we’re right on the edge. The trend is not only down it looks a lot like the 2001 and 2008 time frames, as we were heading lower and about to “formally recognize” economic trouble.
We’ll get more data this week, but this is not a positive print at all.
It’s time we freed ourselves from needless stuff, needless calories, needless spending, needless guilt and needless derangement.
My Mom, bless her heart, drove a stake through the guilt-ridden, retail-riot needless-gift Christmas madness: ”Let’s not exchange gifts this year–none of us need more stuff or calories.” Done! We are having a gift-free party, where the “gifts” will be the experience of conviviality and the memories.
No matter how “small” the gifts may be, the guilt-soaked onus to buy something, anything for everyone in the family/enterprise is deranging. What most households need is not more stuff but someone to haul stuff away.
Is Anybody Else Tired of Buying and Owning Stuff? (September 7, 2012). The real gift to loved ones would be freeing them of stuff they no longer use.
We as a nation are awash in stuff. Dumpsters are crammed with perfectly good food (an estimated 40% of food in America is thrown out), perfectly good electronics, still usable furniture, and on and on.
As for candy, confections, cakes, etc.–as Mom said, none of us need more sugar-fat calories. If we do give sweets this year, they will be homemade so we can use real ingredients and cut the sugar used in the recipe. We can also trim the portion sizes. Less is better in so many ways.
Part of the guilt of Christmas is the constantly repeated message that our economy will collapse if people don’t buy more stuff on credit, even if the stuff is needless. Please, Santa, Let This Be the Last Christmas in America (that’s supposed to “save” the U.S. economy) (November 23, 2010). Recall that holiday retail sales are a mere 3.4% of the U.S. GDP.
Well guess what, America–if your economy is based on buying useless stuff on credit, then it shouldcollapse, and the sooner the better, because there is another, better way to live: without credit, and without needless stuff.
In a largely loveless, technology-distracted, burned-out society, then the guilt of self-absorbed emotional miserliness drives us to salvage an expression of caring from a needless gift. Too busy to actually listen to your kids? Lavish them with a gift. Ditto your parents, colleagues, etc.
If time is the ultimate gift, then what better gift than time spent together enjoying a home-cooked meal or other conviviality?
Yes, children expect multiple gifts, even if their rooms are already warehouses of consumerism, and a gift may be expected in certain business settings. But is there no other way to express caring than a frantically purchased retail-riot gift? How about sharing some item that is somebody else’s surplus? This is now a business model: yerdle – why shop when you can share? “Sharing is more fun than shopping.”
If you are in a position of responsibility, then how about ending the gift-exchange charade in your enterprise/division? Or if you face a full-blown rebellion in the family or company, then why not place a $5 limit on all gifts? Or require the gifts be home-made, or consumable?
If you must give gifts, then how about making them useful tools? This is the idea behind our list of practical kitchen tools: Favorite Practical Kitchen Tools (All Under $23, many under $10, most made in U.S.A.): if you feel you must give a gift, or want to help stock a new household’s kitchen, then for goodness sakes, give something that is useful on a daily basis, not an electric pasta maker (or equivalent) that collects dust in a closet until the owner moves or has a garage/jumble sale.
Yes, we will give a few gifts to children, friends and key clients; but the gifts will be small, handmade or consumable. It’s time we freed ourselves from needless stuff, needless calories, needless spending, needless guilt and needless derangement.
Charles Hugh Smith – Of Two Minds
It’s time to cut the crap on this so-called “help” and call it what it is: Welfare, then take it out back and shoot it.
About 2.1 million Americans receive payments through federally backed emergency unemployment programs, which Congress adopted starting in 2008 as a temporary supplement to state-level programs funded primarily with taxes on employers, which generally offer six months of benefits. That number has tumbled from more than 3.5 million at the start of the year and a peak of more than six million in early 2010, reflecting not just the gradual improvement of the job market but also new limits that have pushed hundreds of thousands of workers off the rolls before they could find jobs.
These programs are simple welfare, nothing, more or less.
As of last week’s report “EUC 2008″, which is the program in question, had 2.156 million “beneficiaries.” To put this in context “regular” state unemployment had 2.956 million people receiving benefits as of November 3rd.
“Regular” unemployment (26 weeks) is an insurance program. You, the employee, pay into it with a piece of every paycheck. It is prohibited by law for your employer to itemize this as a deduction from your paycheck, but it is a fact that it comes out of your offered wage in each and every case. In this regard it is a forced insurance program (gee, where do you think the Government got the idea that forcing people to buy insurance — like health insurance — was a good idea?) but the fact remains that “regular” 26-week unemployment compensation is something you paid into, although as an employee it is an insurance program you cannot opt out of.
EUC is a welfare program. It is entirely unfunded and you paid nothing for it. It was and is the clear intent of government to blur the line between the two, making you believe you were and are entitled to the latter benefit because “it’s something you earned” when in point of fact nothing of the sort ever occurred.
The problem is that not only does this form of welfare distort the job market, as it encourages people to “hold out” for a job they want rather than taking whatever they can get (or starting their own business, even if it is nothing more than doing odd jobs for money from people.)
It also distorts the picture that people have regarding work .vs. welfare, a hand out .vs. a hand up.
It is my considered opinion that unemployment insurance is something that you should have the right to either buy or not as an individual employee and your employer should have nothing to do with it. The current system is rife with fraud; in Illinois, for example, it is virtually impossible to prevent someone from getting unemployment even if they are fired for cause. I had multiple cases when I ran MCSNet where I terminated someone for a blatantly “for-cause” reason (e.g. not showing up for work on a repeated and notorious basis) and they would file for unemployment anyway. We would protest and lose and the person who got canned would collect despite being outrageously ineligible.
This sort of abuse hurt everyone who legitimately wanted to work at the shop, since their wage offer was originally reduced by the amount that I would have to fork over for unemployment “insurance.” The fact that any random employee could (and some did) claim this benefit illegitimately and got away with it meant that everyone in the place got screwed. Oh sure, the amount of the screwing for each employee was relatively small, but that’s not the point — if you steal a dollar or $10,000 from someone the only thing we’re arguing about is the amount of damage, not whether the act was proper.
As a nation we need to fix these problems. The best way to solve it in this case is to scrap the “unemployment” system entirely, and make unemployment a insurance program that employees can buy on their own initiative. That in turn would make such a benefit entirely portable and entirely at the employee’s discretion; in some cases people would choose not to buy it at all (e.g. a teen taking a summer job or a second income in a household that is not necessary but enhances lifestyle) where others would want to buy it (e.g. a head-of-household.) This would also allow private companies to price the insurance for the risk on an individual basis and they’d have a strong incentive to police fraud and claims for “benefits” where the person in question was fired for cause.
Let the hate mail aimed at me for the termerity to suggest that people should work for what they get, and that the scam level in our system be reduced, no matter how slightly, begin.