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Are you Prepared?

69 Percent Of Americans Do Not Have An Adequate Emergency Fund June 20, 2017

Do you have an emergency fund?  If you even have one penny in emergency savings, you are already ahead of about one-fourth of the country.  I write about this stuff all the time, but it always astounds me how many Americans are literally living on the edge financially.  Back in 2008 when the economy tanked and millions of people lost their jobs, large numbers of Americans suddenly couldn’t pay their bills because they were living paycheck to paycheck.  Now the stage is set for it to happen again.  Another major recession is going to happen at some point, and when it does millions of people are going to get blindsided by it.

Despite all of our emphasis on education, we never seem to teach our young people how to handle money.  But this is one of the most basic skills that everyone needs.  Personally, I went through high school, college and law school without ever being taught about the dangers of going into debt or the importance of saving money.

If you are ever going to build any wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn.  That is just basic common sense.  Unfortunately, nearly one out of every four Americans does not have even a single penny in emergency savings…

Bankrate’s newly released June Financial Security Index survey indicates that 24 percent of Americans have not saved any money at all for their emergency funds.

This is despite experts recommending that people strive for a savings cushion equivalent to the amount needed to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses.

For years, I have been telling my readers that at a minimum they need to have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of expenses.  It is great to have more than that, but everyone should strive to have at least a six month cushion.

Unfortunately, that same Bankrate survey found that only 31 percent of Americans actually have such a cushion

The June survey also found that 31 percent of Americans have what Bankrate considers an ‘adequate’ savings cushion — six or more months’ worth of money to pay expenses — which means that nearly two-thirds of the country isn’t saving enough money.

That means that a whopping 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

So what is going to happen if another great crisis arrives and millions of people suddenly lose their jobs?

Just like last time, mortgage defaults will start soaring and countless numbers of families will lose their homes.

If you do not have anything to fall back on, you can lose your spot in the middle class really fast.  And in the case of a truly catastrophic national crisis, trying to operate without any money at all is going to be exceedingly challenging.

Just recently, the Federal Reserve conducted a survey that discovered that 44 percent of all Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”.

That is almost half the country.

And a different survey by CareerBuilder found that 75 percent of all Americans have lived paycheck to paycheck “at least some of the time”.

Unfortunately, in a desperate attempt to make ends meet many of us continue to pile up more and more debt.  According to Moneyish, Americans have now accumulated more than a trillion dollars of credit card debt, more than a trillion dollars of student loan debt, and more than a trillion dollars of auto loan debt.

We’ve racked up $1 trillion in credit card debt — and that’s just a fraction of what we owe. That’s according to data released this year from the Federal Reserve, which found that U.S. consumers owe $1.0004 trillion on their cards, up 6.2% from a year ago; this is the highest amount owed since January 2009. What’s more, this isn’t the only consumer debt to top $1 trillion. We now also owe more than $1 trillion for our cars, and for our student loans, the data showed.

Overall, U.S. consumers are now more than 12 trillion dollars in debt.

We often criticize the federal government for being nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt.  And that criticism is definitely valid.  What we are doing to future generations of Americans is beyond criminal.

But are we not doing something similar to ourselves?

When you divide the total amount of consumer debt by the size of the U.S. population, it breaks down to roughly $40,000 for every man, woman and child in our country.

When someone lends you money, you have to pay back more than you originally borrow.  And in the case of high interest debt, you can end up paying back several times what you originally borrowed.

If you carry a balance from month to month on a high interest credit card, it is absolutely crippling you financially.  But many Americans don’t understand this.  Instead, they just keep sending off the “minimum payment” every month because that is the easiest thing to do.

If you ever want to achieve financial freedom, you have got to get rid of your toxic debts.  There are some forms of low interest debt, such as mortgage debt, that are not going to financially cripple you.  But anything with a high rate of interest you will want to pay off as soon as possible.

And everyone needs a financial cushion.  Unless you can guarantee that your life is always going to go super smoothly and you are never going to have any problems, you need an emergency fund to fall back on.

Yes, you may need to make some sacrifices in order to make that happen.  Nobody ever said that it would be easy.  But just about everyone has somewhere that a little “belt tightening” can be done, and in the long-term it will be worth it.

When you don’t have to constantly worry about how you are going to pay the bills next month, it will help you sleep a lot easier at night.  Many of us have put a lot of unnecessary stress on ourselves by spending money that we didn’t have for things that we really didn’t need.

And now is the time to get your financial house in order, because it appears that another major economic downturn is not too far away.

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It Is Becoming Illegal To Be Homeless In America As Houston, Dallas And Dozens Of Other Cities Pass Draconian Laws April 30, 2017

Should we make homelessness against the law and simply throw all homeless people into prison so that we don’t have to deal with them?  Incredibly, this is actually starting to happen in dozens of major cities all across the United States.  It may be difficult to believe, but in many large urban areas today, if you are found guilty of “public camping” you can be taken directly to jail.  In some cities, activities such as “blocking a walkway” or creating any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation” are also considered to be serious crimes.  And there are some communities that have even made it illegal to feed the homeless without an official permit.  Unfortunately, as the U.S. economy continues to slow down the number of homeless people will continue to grow, and so this is a crisis that is only going to grow in size and scope.

Of course the goal of many of these laws is to get the homeless to go somewhere else.  But as these laws start to multiply all across the nation, pretty soon there won’t be too many places left where it is actually legal to be homeless.

One city that is being highly criticized for passing extremely draconian laws is Houston.  In that city it is actually illegal for the homeless to use any sort of material to shield themselves from the wind, the rain and the cold

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking a similar approach—his anti-encampment ordinance makes it illegal to use “fabric, metal, cardboard, or other materials as a tent or temporary structure for human habitation.” This ensures that the Houstonian homeless are vulnerable not just to the elements, but also to the constant threat of the police. Officials cite one of the most common justifications for crackdowns on the homeless: neighborhood safety (a more socially acceptable way of talking about the not-in-my-backyard mentality).

With all of the other problems that we are facing as a nation, it stuns me that there are politicians that would spend their time dreaming up such sick and twisted laws.

According to one news report, the homeless in Houston are now officially banned from doing all of the following things…

1. They can’t block a sidewalk, stand in a roadway median or block a building doorway. (AKA they can’t panhandle).

2. They also can’t do any of these things — blocking walkways — under state law that already existed.

3. They can’t sleep in tents, boxes or any other makeshift shelter on public property.

4. They also can’t have heating devices.

5. They can’t carry around belongings that take up space more than three feet long, three feet wide, three feet tall.

6. People can’t spontaneously feed more than five homeless people without a permit.

If I was a homeless person in Houston, I would definitely be looking to get out of there.

But where are they going to go?

Things are almost as bad in Dallas.  In fact, it is being reported that the police in Dallas “issued over 11,000 citations for sleeping in public from January 2012 to November 2015.”

When you break that number down, it comes to 323 citations per month.

Of course some people have tried to challenge these types of laws in court, but most of the challenges have been unsuccessful.  For example, just check out what recently happened in Denver

Three people who were contesting Denver’s urban-camping ban were found guilty on Wednesday, April 5, at the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse. The defendants — Jerry Burton, Randy Russell and Terese Howard — were determined to have unlawfully camped on November 28, 2016, and to have interfered with police operations at one location. All three were sentenced with court-ordered probation for one year and between twenty and forty hours of community service.

The case challenged Denver’s unauthorized-camping ordinance, which has been divisive ever since Denver City Council approved it in 2012.

Since the courts are generally upholding these laws, this has just emboldened more communities to adopt anti-homelessness ordinances.  According to one report, dozens of major cities have now passed such laws…

City-wide bans on public camping (PDF) have increased by 69 percent throughout the United States. What used to be seen as an annoyance is now prohibited, forcing fines or jail time on those who certainly can’t afford it. The only nationwide nonprofit devoted to studying this, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, has been tracking these changes since 2006. Their findings? There are a scary number of laws passed that ironically make it costly to be homeless.

For example, in 33 of the 100 U.S. cities they studied, it’s illegal to publicly camp. In 18, it’s illegal to sleep in public. Panhandling is illegal in 27 cities.

In 39 cities, it’s illegal to live in vehicles.

As I have warned repeatedly, we are seeing hearts grow cold all around us.  Instead of doing everything that they can to try to help those in need, communities are trying to make them go some place else, and those that try to feed and help the homeless are being harshly penalized.

Sadly, all of this comes at a time when homelessness is on the rise all over America.  In a previous article I pointed out that in New York City the number of homeless people recently hit a brand new all-time high, and things have gotten so bad in Los Angeles that the L.A. City Council has formally requested that Governor Jerry Brown declare a state of emergency.

We tend to think of the homeless as bearded old men with drinking problems, but the truth is that many of the homeless are children.

In fact, the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.

If this is how we are going to treat some of the most vulnerable members of our society while things are still relatively stable, how are we going to be treating one another when the economy completely collapses?

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The U.S. Entered World War I On April 6, 1917 – Did Trump Just Start World War III On April 6, 2017? April 7, 2017

Did World War III begin on April 6th, 2017?  After Donald Trump fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria on Thursday night, millions of Americans were cheering, but the cheering isn’t going to last for long if a new world war erupts.  What is amazing to me is that this happened on the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I.  The U.S. officially entered that war on April 6th, 1917, and now 100 years later to the day Donald Trump has essentially declared war on Syria.

If you think using the term “World War III” is alarmist, you might want to tell that to the vast numbers of people that are buzzing about a new world war all over social media.  If you don’t yet understand why a strike on Syria could be so dangerous, go back and read my article from yesterday.  If we continue striking Syria, we could very easily find ourselves in a direct military conflict with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

Hopefully last night will be the full extent of U.S. military action.  If Donald Trump and his national security advisers pat themselves on the back for “looking tough” and decide that was enough, we probably won’t see a major regional war break out.

But if the U.S. decides that regime change is necessary and continues to conduct more strikes, we will have war.  And unfortunately, there are already signs that this may happen.  On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated that the Trump administration “is prepared to do more”

“The United States took a very measured step last night,” Haley said. “We are prepared to do more. But we hope that will not be necessary. It is time for all civilized nations to stop the horrors that are taking place in Syria and demand a political solution.”

I don’t understand why so many Americans seem to have a thirst for war.

I have been studying war virtually all my life.  When I was just a small boy, I would check huge volumes on World War I, World War II and the Korean War out of the library and read them cover to cover.  And let me tell you, war is hell.  Nobody should actually want to see war, and now we are closer to the next world war than we have been in decades.

Needless to say, the Russians are extremely angry about what Trump has done.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced it as an “illegal act of aggression”,  and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that the U.S. came “within an inch” of a direct conflict with Russian forces…

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said the US air strike on a Syrian air base came “within an inch” of militarily clashing with their forces.

He said the action taken by the Americans was in breach of international law and their own internal procedures, and accused Washington of “barely avoiding combat clashes with Russia”.

In a post on Facebook, Mr Medvedev said the air strike had “completely ruined relations” between the two superpowers.

What in the world is Trump thinking?

The Russians very much wanted Trump to win the election because they felt that there was a very high probability of war between our two nations if Hillary Clinton would have won.

And the Russians were quite right to think that.

So the Russian people rejoiced greatly when Trump won, because they thought that it would be a new day for relations between our two great countries.

But after last night that hope is dead.

In fact, historians will probably mark April 6, 2017 as the day when the relationship between the United States and Russia officially died.

And it didn’t take long for the Russians to start to respond.  The following comes from Business Insider

The Russia Foreign Ministry announced that it suspended an agreement to avoid clashes between Russian and US-led coalition jets over Syrian airspace, while Reuters reporter Idrees Ali reports that Russia withdrew from a deconfliction channel, which the US used Thursday night to warn Russian forces of the incoming cruise-missile strikes (which took place Friday morning local time).

In addition, it has been announced that Russia will be significantly bolstering air defenses in Syria, and according to Fox News a Russian warship has been dispatched to confront the two U.S. naval vessels that fired the cruise missiles at Syria…

A Russian warship entered the eastern Mediterranean Friday and was heading toward the area where two U.S. Navy destroyers launched missile strikes into Syria, Fox News has learned.

The Russian frigate, Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494, crossed through the Bosphorus Strait “a few hours ago” from the Black Sea, according to a U.S. defense official.

Here in the United States, we need to start making our voices heard very loudly so that President Trump will understand that most Americans do not want to go to war in Syria.

And of course the same thing can be said about a potential war with North Korea.  After last night’s cruise missile display, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is warning that his nation is on the “brink of war” with the United States.

One of the angles that is not getting a lot of discussion in the mainstream media is how the events of last night were viewed by the Chinese.

Donald Trump grew up in New York City at a time when the mafia still had a dominant presence, and to put a “hit” on another rival across town when you are sitting down for a meeting with a top boss from another family sends a very, very powerful message.

The fact that Trump ordered those 59 cruise missiles to rain down on Syria at the exact moment when he was having dinner with the president of China is going to be remembered by the Chinese for a very, very long time.  In Asian cultures respect is a very big thing, and the Chinese had to be deeply embarrassed by what just happened last night.

On top of everything else, the truth is that Donald Trump blatantly violated the U.S. Constitution by conducting a military strike against Syria without the approval of Congress.  This is something that U.S. Senator Rand Paul pointed out very clearly in an editorial that was released on Friday

The Constitution clearly states that it is Congress that has the power to declare war, not the president. Even the War Powers Resolution, shoved forward by hawks as justification, clearly states criteria under which the president may act – a declaration of war, a specific statutory authorization, or a national emergency created by an attack on the United States.

That’s it. Absent those criteria, the president has no authority to act without congressional authorization. Congress must stand up and assert its authority here and now.

Conservatives always protested whenever Barack Obama violated the U.S. Constitution in this manner, and so they should protest when Donald Trump acts in the same fashion.

A lot of people will read this article and they aren’t going to grasp the importance of what is going on because they do not understand where all of this is ultimately heading.

But there are some of you that have major alarm bells going off in your head because you have been listening to the warnings and you know what comes next.

We have entered a season of time that myself and other watchmen have been warning about for many years.  I just can’t believe that it is starting to happen so quickly.  Many had been hoping for a time of peace and prosperity during a time of “reprieve” under Donald Trump, but you can forget that now.

The events of April 6th, 2017 have changed everything, and most Americans are completely unprepared for what will soon follow.

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