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The Worst Financial Nightmare In Illinois History Erupts As State Comptroller Declares ‘We Are In Massive Crisis Mode’ June 18, 2017

Margaret Thatcher once said that the big problem with socialist governments is that “they always run out of other people’s money”, and unfortunately we are witnessing this play out in a major way in the state of Illinois right now.  At this point, the Illinois state government has more than 15 billion dollars of unpaid bills.  Yes, you read that correctly.  They are already 15 billion dollars behind on their bills, and they are on pace to take in 6 billion dollars less than they are scheduled to spend in 2017.  It is the worst financial crisis in the history of Illinois, and State Comptroller Susana Mendoza sounds like she is about ready to tear her hair out in frustration

“I don’t know what part of ‘We are in massive crisis mode’ the General Assembly and the governor don’t understand. This is not a false alarm,” said Mendoza, a Chicago Democrat. “The magic tricks run out after a while, and that’s where we’re at.”

It’s a new low, even for a state that’s seen its financial situation grow increasingly desperate amid a standoff between the Democrat-led Legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Illinois already has $15 billion in overdue bills and the lowest credit rating of any state, and some ratings agencies have warned they will downgrade the rating to “junk” if there’s no budget before the next fiscal year begins July 1.

Would you continue to do work for the Illinois state government if you knew that they were this far behind on their bills and that it is doubtful that you would be paid any time in the foreseeable future?

Of course the answer to that question is quite obvious.  As contractual relationships break down, social services are starting to suffer, and there is not much hope that things will take a turn for the better any time soon.

At this point things have gotten so bad that the Illinois Department of Transportation is planning to cease all roadwork starting on July 1st, and even the Powerball lottery is threatening to cut all ties with the state

As reported previously, the state Transportation Department said it would stop roadwork by July 1 if Illinois entered its third consecutive fiscal year without a budget – the longest such stretch of any US state – while the Powerball lottery said it may be forced to dump Illinois over its lack of budget. For now, state workers have continued to receive pay because of court orders, but school districts, colleges and medical and social service providers are under increasing strain.

So what has caused this unprecedented crisis?

At the core, the problem is political.  A tense standoff between a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature has resulted in the state going 700 days without a budget

On May 31, Illinois will have gone 700 days without a budget, an unprecedented political failure. Also on May 31, if a budget is not passed, it could mean that the state could go until 2019—an unimaginable idea, except that senators have already imagined it.

How does a state, led by a successful businessman as governor, a brilliant political strategist in the House, and a consummate dealmaker in the Senate, end up in this kind of political disorganization? Bad political errors led to bad political incentives, and as the problem worsened, so did the political risk of solutions—and what politicians had to ask of their constituents.

This is another example of how deeply divided we are as a nation right now.  Democrats hate Republicans and Republicans hate Democrats, and it is getting to the point where the two parties cannot work together on even the most basic things.

In the end, the state of Illinois is either going to have to cut spending dramatically, raise taxes substantially or some combination of both.  And since the Democrats have very large majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, I wouldn’t count on spending being cut that much.

This is the thing with big government – it always has a tendency to get even bigger.  And the bigger government gets, the more of our money and the more of our freedom it takes away.

That is why I am a huge advocate of dramatically shrinking the size of government on the federal, state and local levels.  Like Rand Paul has often said, I want a government so small that I can barely see it.

When you let government get out of control, what you end up with is a ravenous beast that has an endless appetite for more of your money.  In Illinois, the money is all gone and the beast is desperately hungry for more.

Sadly, what is happening in Illinois is just the tip of the iceberg.  If stock prices start declining from these massively inflated levels, state pension funds all over America are going to be in crisis mode very rapidly.  And a new recession would greatly accelerate the financial problems of a whole bunch of states that are already dealing with huge budget shortfalls.

Unfortunately, experts all over the country are warning that the next major downturn is coming very quickly.  For example, just consider what Bernard Arnault just told CNBC

A financial crisis could be just around the corner, according to the chief executive of LVMH, who has described the global economic outlook as “scary”.

“For the economic climate, the present situation is…mid-term scary,” Bernard Arnault told CNBC Thursday.

“I don’t think we will be able to globally avoid a crisis when I see the interest rates so low, when I see the amounts of money flowing into the world, when I see the stock prices which are much too high, I think a bubble is building and this bubble, one day, will explode.”

There is always a price to pay for going into too much debt.

A financial day of reckoning can be delayed for a while, but eventually bad financial decisions are going to catch up with you.  The state of Illinois is learning this lesson in a very harsh manner right now, and the country as a whole is on the exact same path as Illinois.

I am often criticized for endlessly warning about America’s coming day of reckoning, but you can’t pile up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world without paying a price.

Just like the state of Illinois, we will pay for decades of exceedingly foolish decisions, and unfortunately this is going to cause severe economic pain throughout our entire society.

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The Real Unemployment Number: 102 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have A Job June 5, 2017

Did you know that the number of working age Americans that do not have a job right now is far higher than it was during the worst moments of the last recession?  For example, in January 2009 92.6 million working age Americans did not have a job, but we just found out that in May the number of working age Americans without a job increased to just a shade under 102 million.  We’ll go over those numbers in more detail in a moment, but first I want to talk a bit about the difference between perception and reality.  According to the bureaucrats in the federal government, the “unemployment rate” in May was the lowest that we have seen in 16 years.  At just “4.3 percent”, we are essentially at “full employment”, and so according to them anyone that really wants a job should be able to find one pretty easily.

Of course that is a load of nonsense.  John Williams of shadowstats.com tracks what our economic numbers would look like if honest numbers were being used, and according to his calculations the unemployment rate is currently 22 percent.

So what accounts for the wide disparity between those numbers?

Well, the truth is that the official “unemployment rate” that the mainstream media endlessly hypes is so manipulated that it has essentially lost all meaning at this point.

In May, we were told that the U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs, but that is not even enough to keep up with population growth.

However, when you look deeper into the numbers some major red flags quickly emerge.  You won’t hear it on the news, but in May the U.S. economy actually lost 367,000 full-time jobs.  That is an absolutely nightmarish figure, and it confirms the fact that economic activity is starting to dramatically slow down.

But somehow the “unemployment rate” in May fell from “4.4 percent” to “4.3 percent”.

How in the world can they do that?

Well, for years the government has been taking large numbers of people from the basket known as “officially unemployed” and dumping them into another basket known as “not in the labor force”.  Since those that are “not in the labor force” do not count toward the official unemployment rate, they can make things look better than they actually are by moving people into that category.

In May, the government added a staggering 608,000 Americans into the “not in the labor force” category.  So now the number of working age Americans “not in the labor force” has reached a total of 94.98 million.  When you add that total to the number of Americans that are “officially” unemployed (6.86 million), you get a grand total of 101.84 million.

In other words, when you round up to the nearest million you get a grand total of 102 million Americans that do not have a job right now.

If you go back to January 2009, there were 81.02 million Americans that were “not in the labor force” and 11.61 million Americans that were considered to be “officially unemployed”.  And so that means that according to the federal government there were 92.63 million working age Americans that did not have a job at that point.

So if the number of working age Americans without a job has risen by 9.21 million since January 2009, are we really doing so much better than we were during the depths of the last recession?

Another way to look at this is by examining the civilian employment-population ratio.  Just before the last recession, about 63 percent of the working age population had a job, but then during the recession that number fell to between 58 and 59 percent for quite a while.  We have finally gotten back to the 60 percent mark, but we are still far, far below the level that we were at before the last recession struck.

And of course all of the above assumes that the numbers that the government is giving us accurately reflect reality, and that is highly questionable.

For example, according to one recent analysis the “business birth and death model” has accounted for 93 percent of all “new jobs” reported by the government since 2008…

As our friends at Morningside Hill calculate, a full 93% of the new jobs reported since 2008 – 6.3 million out of 6.7 million – and 40% of the jobs in 2016 alone were added through the business birth and death model – a highly controversial model which is not supported by the data. On the contrary, all data on establishment births and deaths point to an ongoing decrease in entrepreneurship.

In essence, government bureaucrats pull a number out of the air and add jobs to the report based on an estimate of how many new businesses they think are being created in America in a particular month.

Is it possible that there is a chance that they are being overly optimistic when they make this estimate?

Most people have no idea that the “official numbers” that we get from the government are highly speculative, and there is always a temptation to make things look better than they actually are.

There is no way in the world that we are anywhere near “full employment”.  I hear from people all over the country that say that it is exceedingly difficult to find good jobs where they live.  And according to a brand new report that was just released, the number of job cuts in May 2017 was 71 percent higher than it was in May 2016.

We also know that over the past ten years the average rate of economic growth in the United States exactly matches the average rate of economic growth that the U.S. experienced during the 1930s.

I don’t see how anyone can possibly claim that the U.S. economy is doing well.  Just prior to the last recession there were 26 million Americans on food stamps, and now we have 44 million.  We are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has risen by 23 percent over the past 12 months.

But once again, it is a battle of perception vs. reality.  Their televisions are endlessly feeding them the message that everything is just fine, and most Americans seem to be buying it, at least for now…

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Free Money: Potential Presidential Candidate Mark Zuckerberg Suggests That All Americans Should Get A ‘Universal Basic Income’ May 25, 2017

Should everyone in America receive a “basic income” directly from the federal government?  Considering the fact that we are already 20 trillion dollars in debt, such a concept may sound quite foolish to many of you, but this is an idea that is really starting to gain traction in leftist circles.  In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested that this was something that we should “explore” during the commencement speech that he just delivered at Harvard.  For quite a while it has been obvious that Zuckerberg is very strongly considering a run for the presidency in 2020, but up until just recently we haven’t had many clues about where he would stand on particular issues.  If he is serious about proposing a universal basic income for all Americans, that would make Zuckerberg very appealing to the far left voters that flocked to the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Yesterday, I discussed the fact that the number of Americans that are receiving money from the government each month has reached an all-time high, but Zuckerberg would take things much farther.  According to Zuckerberg, society would be far better off if everyone got an income from the government

“Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract,” Zuckerberg said during his speech. “We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”

Zuckerberg said that, because he knew he had a safety net if projects like Facebook had failed, he was confident enough to continue on without fear of failing. Others, he said, such as children who need to support households instead of poking away on computers learning how to code, don’t have the foundation Zuckerberg had. Universal basic income would provide that sort of cushion, Zuckerberg argued.

Such a proposal is going to look really good to a lot of people at first glance.

But who is going to pay for this?

Of course the truth is that the money for the people that are not working would come from taxing the people that are working.

I don’t think that Zuckerberg has really thought this through.  Are young people going to have an incentive to work if they can just stay home and watch movies and play video games all day while collecting their “universal basic incomes” from the government?

And why would anyone want to bust their rear ends working for a living when their incomes are just going to be taxed extremely heavily to pay for all the people that aren’t working?

We are already 20 trillion dollars in debt, but politicians on the left just want to keep giving even more free stuff to people.  During his presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders suggested that everyone in America “deserves a minimum standard of living” and that every citizen is “entitled” to universal health care, free college education and basic housing…

So long as you have Republicans in control of the House and the Senate, and so long as you have a Congress dominated by big money, I can guarantee you that the discussion about universal basic income is going to go nowhere in a hurry. But, if we can develop a strong grassroots movement which says that every man, woman and child in this country is entitled to a minimum standard of living — is entitled to health care, is entitled to education, is entitled to housing — then we can succeed. We are living in the richest country in the history of the world, yet we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country and millions of people are struggling to put food on the table. It is my absolute conviction that everyone in this country deserves a minimum standard of living and we’ve got to go forward in the fight to make that happen.

In previous generations, very few people would have ever taken someone like Bernie Sanders seriously.

But in our day and time socialism is really starting to catch on.  In fact, one survey found “that four out of every ten adults say they prefer socialism to capitalism”

The American Culture and Faith Institute recently conducted a survey of adults 18 and older. It shows not only how deeply divided Americans are on some issues but also how their view of the nation stands in many cases in stark contrast to our nation’s founding principles. Most Americans (58 percent) see themselves as politically moderate, while a quarter identify as conservative, and 17 percent as liberal. Those who were both socially and fiscally conservative, the group tracked by the ACFI in greatest detail, were 6 percent of the population.

But those differences don’t reveal the greatest divide and danger to America’s future. “The most alarming result, according to [George] Barna, was that four out of every ten adults say they prefer socialism to capitalism,” the ACFI noted in its commentary on the poll. “That is a large minority,” Barna said, “and it includes a majority of the liberals — who will be pushing for a completely different economic model to dominate our nation. That is the stuff of civil wars. It ought to set off alarm bells among more traditionally-oriented leaders across the nation.’” That 40 percent of Americans now prefer socialism to capitalism could spell major change to the policies advanced by legislators and political leaders and to the interpretations of judges ruling on the application of new and pre-existing laws.

And as I noted yesterday, Millennials are particularly attracted to socialism.  This could have dramatic implications for our society as older generations of Americans slowly die off.

Unfortunately, there is just one huge problem with socialism.

It doesn’t work.

If you want to see the end result of socialism, just move to Venezuela or North Korea for a while.

In socialist nations, there is very little incentive to work hard.  Instead, people tend to become very lazy and expect the government to provide everything that they need.

When people work hard and are productive, the overall wealth of a society goes up.  And when people sit around and wait for someone else to provide for them, the overall wealth of a society goes down.

Would Mark Zuckerberg have worked so hard to develop Facebook if he knew that the government would just come in and take most of the money away so that others could have a “universal basic income”?

Yes, we want to do all that we can to reduce poverty and to build a strong, vibrant middle class.

But socialism is not the answer and it never will be.

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