Everywhere from FoxNews.com to CNBC.com, I suddenly see commentators warning of pending doom, economic collapse, and a new Great Depression. Welcome to my club. Perhaps America's politicians and economists should have paid attention to an entrepreneur and small businessman that has been warning of economic collapse and a new Great Depression publicly for over two years.
More importantly, none of the current commentaries mention the "why's" of this slow motion economic collapse...beyond the obvious -- mountains of deficit and debt. None of them mention the dysfunctional structure of the current U.S. economy and the massive changes in the work ethic and mindset of the average American.
I am a successful small businessman and a patriot who loves America and always sees its greatness. I am also an optimistic, positive thinker who always sees the glass half full.
But not this time.
This time we are in such deep trouble, the only solution is a radical restructuring of the politicians, the economy, and the way we view personal responsibility versus government handouts. If those changes don't come then we are facing a long decline and the eventual end of America.
This time the results are going to be dramatically worse than 1929. This time we are facing The Greatest Depression ever.
Why? Because The Great Depression had NONE of the structural, economic, and social problems, nor the massive obligations we are now facing. Read the facts:
In 1929 America was not $16 trillion in debt, plus facing over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That’s over $360,000 in debt per citizen.
In 1929, most of our states were not bankrupt, insolvent and dependent on federal government handouts to survive. One county (Cook County which includes Chicago, Illinois) now owes over $108 billion in debt (the biggest part of it in unfunded government employee pensions).
In 1929, we did not have 21 million government employees with bloated salaries, obscene pensions, and free health care for life. Today 1 out of 5 federal employees earn over $100,000.
Today, 77,000 federal employees earn more than the governors of their states.
Staggering numbers of federal government employees retire at a young age with $100,000 pensions for life.
Unfortunately on the state and local levels it’s even worse. There is now nearly $4 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities for state government employees.
Protected by their unions and the politicians they elect, government employees are bankrupting America. In Illinois there are retired government employees making over $425,000 per year.
No one could have imagined any of this in 1929. There is no possible way to pay these bills moving forward.
In 1929, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid didn’t exist. The federal government had no such obligations threatening to consume the entire federal budget within a few years.
In 1929, there was no such thing as welfare, food stamps, aid to dependent children, or English as a second language programs. American’s didn’t consider it the responsibility of government to pay for breakfast and lunch for school students -- let alone for illegal immigrants at school.
Who could have imagined back in 1929 that one seventh of America's population would be on food stamps…and the federal government would ADVERTISE to encourage even more Americans to sign up for food stamps and welfare.
Who could imagine back then that the federal government would team up with the President of Mexico to encourage Mexicans living illegally in America to sign up for food stamps?
Who could have imagined back then that the president would offer not just welfare, but waivers to allow any state to opt out of requiring work to receive welfare?
Back in 1929, who could have imagined 86 pregnant teenage girls all in one Memphis high school?
In 1929 we had families, moral codes, and churches to prevent this kind of tragedy. Do you actually believe this is just one abnormal high school? There must be record numbers of pregnant teens all over America. They have figured out that the choice is to either work a drab, depressing job paying minimum wage, or pump out babies and have government pay your bills for decades to come. But where will the money come from? This will overwhelm the system with generations of massive debt. This is a nightmare.
In 1929, legal immigrants wanted only to work. My grandparents, who came to this country from Russia and Germany, received no government benefits. They worked day and night to provide for their family and become American citizens. It was sink or swim. My grandmother Anna Root never took a penny in welfare, even when my grandfather died and left her with no job, no money, and 7 young children. So back in 1929 immigrants cost us very little.
Today we have millions of illegal immigrants and their children collecting billions of dollars in entitlements from U.S. taxpayers.
In one state (California) illegal aliens cost taxpayers over $10.5 billion annually just for education, health care and incarceration. Do you now understand why California is bankrupt and insolvent? This is spreading across the country.
More dysfunction? Today new studies show that almost 20% of American children under age 18 are obese and therefore prone to suffer pre-diabetes, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease.
Even worse, by 2020 experts predict that 52% of the adult population of America will have either pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Do you understand the cost of diabetes? This alone will overwhelm and bankrupt America's health care system.
In 1929 we had no federal disability program. Today almost 11 million Americans are on disability. There are more citizens on the disabled rolls than the population of 39 of our 50 states. This is far worse than the welfare or unemployment rolls- which have time limits. Disability is forever. The ratio of able-bodied workers to disabled in 1967 was 41 to 1. As of June 2012 it is now 16 to 1. It is impossible to pay this bill long term.
But wait...it gets worse. Now soldiers are in on the act. Are you aware 45% of returning vets are claiming "disability" -- a number that dwarfs all prior records in the history of warfare. No nation can afford this.
In 1929, we had an education system that was the envy of the world. Today our public schools are in shambles. We spend the most money in the world, and get among the worst results. The difference today? Teachers unions are in charge, instead of parents. Our students graduate with few skills, are qualified only for low paying manufacturing jobs that no longer exist -- they've been shipped to China and India. What will this workforce do for the rest of their lives? Live off the government dole? Who will pay for it?
In 1929 taxes were much lower. Forget the tax rates -- they were meaningless. In those days we had a cash economy, so most businesses paid little or no taxes. Sales and FICA taxes didn’t exist. Today the combined local, state, property, gas, sales, FICA and federal taxes are the highest burden in history.
When income taxes started in 1913, the average American was untouched. Only the richest 350,000 Americans paid a 2% income tax. Today the average American works until April 12th just to pay his or her taxes.
This stifles entrepreneurship and hinders the financial risk-taking necessary to create jobs and get out of a Great Depression.
New numbers just out for July back up my contention that disaster looms. Sales tax revenues plunged an alarming $539 million below expectations in California last month. The jobless rate rose in July in 9 out of 10 battleground states -- Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina all had higher unemployment (while Ohio held steady). They say bad news comes in threes. Well here's the worst news of all- the American Petroleum Institute reports that demand for oil in July was at the lowest level since 1995. These figures are alarming -- to say the least.
Do you get the picture? Our country is staring at the Greatest Depression ever. We face a long slow decline towards the end of America -- unless we change paths and policy quickly.
The economy is crumbling. The situation is turning more hopeless by the hour. The more government gets involved, the worse it gets. Coincidence?
The solution is actually simple: dramatically cut the size, scope and power of government; cut spending; cut entitlements; cut taxes; cut government rules and regulations that smother, damage and destroy businesses, prevent startups, and kill jobs; reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; reform public employee pensions; stop the wars (we can no longer afford to police the world); end or reform the Fed; end bailouts and stimulus (ask Japan about the failures of repeated stimulus); end the Democratic obsession with green energy and high speed rail (ask Spain about the waste in those two programs); encourage oil and energy exploration; encourage job creation by small business and the private sector; term limit politicians; institute school choice; and back the dollar with a gold standard.
Or, like so many other great empires of history, America may never recover from this Greatest Depression of All Time.