31 December, 2011

What if WWIII had hapened?

I wrote my dissertation on nuclear war planning.  This stuff has always held a fascination for me.  With the passage of time, we now know more about what kind of world the leaders expected they would see when it all went down.

The British have released the 1962 Cabinet Office War Book, including the password to activate the secret bunker that would hold the key 230 politicians and bureaucrats responsible for picking up the pieces.

The code word, by the way, was "orangeade."  Just in case you ever need to know.

Meanwhile, courtesy of FEMA, the NRDC, and War News Updates we have this estimate of the targets to be struck in the US in the event of nuclear war.

Thank God that didn't happen.  Pray it never will.

An adult at the table

There remains hope that the people who actually have an understanding of the situation will restrain the politicians.  It's hard to dismiss the current and past heads of the Mossad as "anti-Israel" or "soft on defense."  

A nuclear-armed Iran wouldn't necessarily constitute a threat to Israel's continued existence, Mossad chief Tamir Pardo reportedly hinted earlier this week.
On Tuesday evening, Pardo addressed an audience of about 100 Israeli ambassadors. According to three ambassadors present at the briefing, the intelligence chief said that Israel was using various means to foil Iran's nuclear program and would continue to do so, but if Iran actually obtained nuclear weapons, it would not mean the destruction of the State of Israel.
The ambassadors said Pardo did not comment on the possibility of an Israeli military assault on Iran."What is the significance of the term existential threat?" the ambassadors quoted Pardo as asking. "Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely. But if one said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an existential threat, that would mean that we would have to close up shop and go home. That's not the situation. The term existential threat is used too freely." 
"But what was clearly implied by his remarks is that he doesn't think a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to Israel," one of the envoys said. 
For the past several years, Netanyahu has characterized a nuclear Iran as an existential threat to Israel. The prime minister has even compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler and argued that Iran should be treated as Nazi Germany should have been dealt with in 1938, just before World War II. In contrast, Barak said in April 2010 that Iran "was not an existential threat at the moment," but warned that it could become one in the future.Pardo's remarks follow lively a public debate in recent months over a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. One of the figures at the center of this public debate has been Pardo's predecessor as Mossad chief, Meir Dagan. Dagan has argued that Israel should only resort to military force "when the knife is at its throat and begins to cut into the flesh." He has also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, accusing them of pushing for an Israeli attack on Iran, and warned that such an assault would have disastrous consequences. 
In the cabinet, Netanyahu and Barak have been the leading proponents of a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. So far, however, they have not managed to convince a majority of either the "octet" forum of eight senior ministers or the diplomatic-security cabinet to support their position.
Otto von Bismarck, master of Realpolitik, probably said it best: "Preemptive war is like committing suicide for fear of death."

30 December, 2011

How bad is it?

Porter Stansbury, already noted for his gloomy predictions about the American economy, finds "the numbers tell us America is in decline... if not outright collapse."  His analysis starts with an estimate of real per capita GDP/time, based on a market-basket of currencies and/or gold.  Even this has pitfalls.  But, anyway, he uses a commodity index (the CRB) until 1975, and after the US is off the gold standard he switches to gold, and the chart looks like this:

I don't know that this is the best way to estimate what is going on, but clearly something is.  And this misses what may be the greatest problem of all: that per capita GDP tells us nothing about the distribution of wealth.  Things got better, it seems, in the years from Reagan to George W. Bush--but how much of that was consolidated in the hands of a few?  Even ignoring that, however, after 2001 things look bad for almost everyone.

Why bring this up here?  Because economic failure promotes desperation, and crime, and a police state mentality.

Stansbury connects the decline to an ethic of entitlement, coupled with vast (and unpunished) corruption at the top.  Henry Paulson and Tim Geitner should be behind bars for lying to Congress and providing more accurate insider information to old associates.  Congress doesn't do anything about it (perhaps because the Congress as a whole has an ever-widening gap with their consitutents, based in part on their exemption from insider-trading laws).

He also wants to claim that there's a direct correspondence to the Great Society programs, either by design (to buy off troublesome groups) or error (the basic errors of large-scale government planning systems).  That's debateable, but what isn't in doubt are the numbers--and the spiral of poverty and crime and incarceration they represent.  Some data points, again from Stansbury:

According to the NAACP, Texas taxpayers spent $175 million in 2009 to imprison residents from a small part of Houston – only 10 zip codes out of 75. Thus, people from neighborhoods that are home to only about 10% of the city's population account for more than 33% of the state's entire $500 million annual prison spending. These neighborhoods are overwhelmingly poor and African American. 
In Pennsylvania, taxpayers will spend $290 million in 2009 to imprison residents from just 11 of Philadelphia's neighborhoods, representing about 25% of the city population. On this relatively small urban area, the state will spend roughly half its $500 million prison budget. These neighborhoods are overwhelmingly poor and African American. 
In New York, taxpayers will spend $539 million to imprison residents from only 24 of New York City's 200 different neighborhoods. Only 16% of the city's population lives in these areas, but they will account for nearly half of the state's $1.1 billion prison budget. These neighborhoods are overwhelmingly poor and African American.

This is not about race, or at least not only about race.  In Detroit, where twenty-seven percent of African-American males graduate from high school, only nineteen percent of white males do so.  In practical terms, in an economy that's increasingly technical and global, these people have little or no chance.

My dad used to be a principal in the schools of St. Louis.  Eventually, he ended up in charge of the school for incarcerated minors.  I'm not sure what's worse: that he found that to be one of his safer assignments, or the fact that some of his students would commit crimes to get off the streets and return to the relative safely of his school.

Today, this country has more than seven million people in prison or on parole, more that any other industrialized state.  The prison population has grown from less than half a million people to more than 2.5 million today--and the building and running of prisons has become a profitable growth industry.  What does that say about us?

Stansbury identifies villians: democrats, republicans, government employee unions, big business.  I don't agree with all of his analysis.  But it's worth a look at the start of what is likely to be a very, very difficult year.

A good idea: recall the bastards

Moving quickly on Christmas Day after the US Senate voted 86 - 14 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) which allows for the indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial, Montanans have announced the launch of recall campaigns against Senators Max Baucus and Jonathan Tester, who voted for the bill.
Montana is one of nine states with provisions that say that the right of recall extends to recalling members of its federal congressional delegation, pursuant to Montana Code 2-16-603, on the grounds of physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of certain felony offenses.

Comment:  We can hope.  Can something similar be arranged in Pennsylvania?  Voting to create a law so blatantly in violation of the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights is pretty clear evidence of "mental lack of fitness, incompetence," or "violation of oath of office."
source: http://www.salem-news.com/articles/december252011/ndaa-recall.php

My favorite candidate declares as a Libertarian--

--and it's NOT Ron Paul.  Governor Gary Johnson, of New Mexico, has been even more excluded from the process than Dr. Paul.  Perhaps it's because Johnson doesn't have some "smoking memos" to pull out if he ever looks to be making too much progress?  Here's Johnson's message to his supporters.  I'll put his essential political positions in boldface:
This morning, I stepped before the microphones at a news conference in the New Mexico capitol and announced that I am seeking the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States. The Libertarian Party nominee will be on the ballot in all 50 states – as was the case in 2008. 
It was both a difficult decision – and an easy one. It was difficult because I have a lot of Republican history, and a lot of Republican supporters. But in the final analysis, as many, many commentators have said since watching how I governed in New Mexico, I am a Libertarian - that is, someone who is fiscally very conservative but holds freedom-based positions on many social issues. 
Frankly, I have been deeply disappointed by the treatment I received in the Republican nomination process. Other candidates with no national name identification like Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman were allowed to participate in the debates. 
Incredibly candidates with no executive experience like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum were allowed to participate while I, a successful two-term governor with a solid record of job creation, was arbitrarily excluded by elitist media organizations in New York. My appeals to the Republican National Chairman for basic fairness were ignored. 
I had hoped to lay out a full libertarian message on all the issues in the Republican contest. I think this election needs a libertarian voice. While Ron Paul is a good man and a libertarian who I proudly endorsed for president in 2008, there is no guarantee he will be the Republican nominee. 
When I announced that I was running for president, I promised you I would be a voice for bold ideas to bring government and its spending under control. I promised I would put my record as the ‘most fiscally conservative’ governor in the nation in front of the voters. And I said that, unlike too many Republican politicians, I think Americans’ government should be smaller and less intrusive and let people make decisions for themselves. 
My Agenda for America is clear:
- I want to end deficit spending and cut federal spending by 43%.
- I want to enact the Fair Tax to stimulate real economic growth and jobs.
- I want to end the manipulation of our money by the Federal Reserve.
- I support the Second Amendment and oppose gun control.
- I oppose expensive foreign wars in places like Libya and Afghanistan.
- I support a woman’s right to choose.
- I support marriage equality for gay Americans as required by the Constitution.
- I support legalization of marijuana, which will save us billions and do no harm.
- I support returning strict adherence to Constitutional principles to our government. 
It is clear that the elite national media and the political “ruling class” don’t want this message heard. It frightens them. It frightens them because they know our message is one that actually reflects the true beliefs of millions of Americans – and they don’t want those millions of people to know there really is a candidate for president who represents them, whether they are Republicans, Democrats, Independents or Libertarians. 
Sadly neither the Republicans nor Democrats will offer this agenda to the American people.
They can’t handle the notion of a successful two-term governor, elected and reelected as a Republican in a Democrat state, who could veto 750 spending bills to shrink government — while refusing to play the special interest game or impose a social agenda on people who prefer to make their own judgments about “values”. 
In other words, there is no room in the national two-party club for a candidate who actually proved that governing as a libertarian works – and whose platform on every issue is clearly supported by a majority of the American people. 
Sometimes the best answer is the simplest. I’m a Libertarian in belief. I successfully governed as a Libertarian in everything but the name, and I am running for president as a Libertarian.
Even before I announced my decision, polls are showing that I would today gain more votes than any Libertarian presidential candidate in history – and have a very real impact on the election nationwide. And that is before our campaign even begins. 
If I earn the Libertarian nomination, I will be on the ballot in all 50 states. I will not be held hostage to a system rigged for the wealthiest and best-known candidates in a handful of states who happen to have early primaries. And most important, we will offer a political “home” for millions of Americans who are not finding one in the current political establishment or its candidates. 
I am excited. I am liberated. And I am committed to shaking the system as it has never been shaken before. Just the speculation that I might run as a Libertarian has garnered more national media attention than I ever received as a Republican candidate whose voice they didn’t’ want to hear. 
Depending on which poll you read, at least 40% of Republicans are not satisfied with the “field” of candidates the media has produced for them. At least 1 in 4 Democrats is having real second thoughts about Barack Obama. Do the math, and it confirms what I have seen for months on the campaign trail: The only political majority in America today is the one made up of voters who are looking for leadership they haven’t found yet. America is ready for a President who will restore common sense to our fiscal and foreign policies and get government out of the boardroom and the bedroom. 
A credible Libertarian candidate for president is the real path to liberty, opportunity, and a government that is put into its proper and limited role. 
In a recent national poll 63% of Americans said they wished there was a third choice for 2012. There is, and I intend to educate the voters about what we offer America. 
Together, you and I are going to offer that majority a choice. They will see that Your support in the past few months has created this amazing opportunity. I may be the messenger, but this isn’t about me. It is about seizing a moment in history and bringing America back from the brink. 
I want you to be with me as we launch this great endeavor. I ask for your continued support. I ask for your advice. And I am asking for your contribution today to provide the spark for the movement we are igniting. 
You are one of my most generous supporters, and I must depend on you to be as generous as you can once again. Please send your contribution of $2,000, $1,000, $500, or $250. It will be used wisely to take our message to every corner of this great country, and to provide a voice that will otherwise never be heard in 2012. Go to: Gary Johnson 2012.com. 
As a candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination my campaign will be eligible for Federal Matching funds — which means whatever you send will ultimately be matched. A $100 contribution is worth $200. A $250 contribution is worth $500. Please send your maximum contribution today. 
Thank you for your support and your friendship. It means more to me than you will ever know. 
P.S. For those who say my decision to run as the Libertarian Party candidate will only draw votes from the Republicans and re-elect President Obama let me predict that, as my full platform based on freedom becomes known, my candidacy will draw votes from both the Republicans and Democrats and many, many independents.
He is not a sure thing for the Libertarian nomination.  Libertarians, like so many "parties of principle," can rip themselves apart arguing over points that most of the rest of world couldn't care less about.

(Do you know what they call a libertarian firing squad?  An inward-facing circle.)

There are a lot of "big-L" libertarians I don't want to be associated with, politically or personally.  But Gov. Johnson has some interesting ideas and he's managed to function as the executive of a state, in a real political system, and get things done for the better.  He deserves better than he's received, so far, in this campaign season.  I'd love to see him on every state ballot.  I'd love to see him on stage during the presidential debates.  That would be justice.

29 December, 2011

STRATFOR hacked by Anonymous--and so was I

I have a grudging admiration for anonymous, the "non-group" of people using their hacking skills not to make a profit, but to bring political and social change.  I've commented on them in the past.  They were a case study of "gray area" and "non-hierarchical" actors in my class last semester on Terrorism.  And while I think it's safe to call what they do cyber-crime, I don't see any real terrorist intent.  More like a robin hood complex.

So imagine my surprise to learn I had been targeted by them (or by somebody using their name--that's the problem with non-groups with anonymous membership.  Hell, *I* might be a member...).  A few years ago I was a paid subscriber to STRATFOR, a private intelligence service.  I'm still on their mailing list, reading the free newsletters and receiving offers to rejoin.  STRATFOR's subscriber list is now on line, complete with names, email addresses, and the password used by that subscriber.  And, apparently, the credit card numbers are available, too.  Including mine.

(And no, I won't link to any of it it.  You can find it for yourself, no doubt.)

In addition to providing a "who's-who" of government, corporate, and academic intel types (an interesting list, by the way--I should remember to save a copy for myself), anonymous threatens to use the numbers and passwords to make contributions to charities of their choice in the names of STRATFOR subscribers (robin hoods, remember?) and break into the files of those subscribers elsewhere.

I don't think I'm in any particular trouble.  Not only am I not worth targeting, the information they have on me is old.  I dropped that credit card years ago, and changed the number on my debit card a few weeks ago.  I've regularly updated my passwords everywhere several time since I was a paid member, and the STRATFOR password opens nothing.  All they really have is an email address, and that's public knowledge already.  But it's an interesting experience.  And I'm glad I decided, all those years ago, that a personal subscription to STRATFOR wasn't worth the cost.

Oh, and if you are from anonymous and reading this--no hard feelings.

28 December, 2011

How to recognize who you are dealing with

In case you get confused this holiday season (too much eggnog, perhaps) Visually provides this handy guide to recognizing who you are dealing with.

If you are only interested in distinguishing TSA agents from everyone else, here's the simple rule: you don't ask, or pay, the TSA to do what they do, and you can't turn down their services.

27 December, 2011

Can it get any more stupid?

Our ever-reforming, ever-improving, "open" government hit some new lows this year. The most amazing thing is that some can claim that they really are making progress. Compared to what?
  • Government report concludes the government classified 77 million documents in 2010, a 40% increase on the year before. The number of people with security clearances exceeded 4.2. million, more people than the city of Los Angeles.
  • Government tells Air Force families, including their kids, it’s illegal to read WikiLeaks. The month before, the Air Force barred its service members fighting abroad from reading the New York Times—the country’s Paper of Record.
  • Lawyers for Guantanamo detainees were barred from reading the WikiLeaks Guantanamo files, despite their contents being plastered on the front page of the New York Times.
  • President Obama refuses to say the words “drone” or “C.I.A” despite the C.I.A. drone program being on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers every day.
  • CIA refuses to release even a single passage from its center studying global warming, claiming it would damage national security. As Secrecy News' Steven Aftergood said, “That’s a familiar song, and it became tiresome long ago.”
  • The CIA demands former FBI agent Ali Soufan censor his book criticizing the CIA’s post 9/11 interrogation tactics of terrorism suspects. Much of the material, according to the New York Times, “has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.”
  • Department of Homeland Security has become so bloated with secrecy that even the “office's budget, including how many employees and contractors it has, is classified,” according to the Center for Investigative reporting. Yet their intelligence reports “produce almost nothing you can’t find on Google,” said a former undersecretary.
  • Headline from the Wall Street Journal in September: “Anonymous US officials push open government.”
  • NSA declassified a 200 year old report which they said demonstrated its “commitment to meeting the requirements” of President Obama’s transparency agenda. Unfortunately, the document “had not met the government's own standards for classification in the first place,” according to J. William Leonard, former classification czar.
  • Government finally declassifies the Pentagon Papers 40 years after they appeared on the front page of the New York Times and were published by the House’s Armed Services Committee.
  • Secrecy expert Steve Aftergood concludes after two years “An Obama Administration initiative to curb overclassification of national security information… has produced no known results to date.”
  • President Obama accepts a transparency award…behind closed doors.
  • Government attorneys insist in court they can censor a book which was already published and freely available online.
  • Department of Justice refuses to release its interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act, a public law.
  • U.S. refuses to release its legal justification for killing an American citizen abroad without a trial, despite announcing the killing in a press conference.
  • U.S. won’t declassify legal opinion on 2001’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program.
  • National Archive announced it was working on declassifying “a backlog of nearly 400 million pages of material that should have been declassified a long time ago.”
  • The CIA refused to declassify Open Source Works, “which is the CIA’s in-house open source analysis component, is devoted to intelligence analysis of unclassified, open source information” according to Steve Aftergood.
  • The ACLU sued asking the State Department to declassify 23 cables out of the more than 250,000 released by WikiLeaks. After more than a year, the government withheld 12 in their entirety. You can see the other 11, heavily redacted, next to the unredacted copies on the ACLU website.
2011 in Review: The Year Secrecy Jumped the Shark | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Snakes on a plane

It's getting to be you can't keep up with reality.

A Czech Man Actually Tried To Smuggle Snakes On A Plane

Get your own state!

I love micronations. There's something appealing--and pleasantly eccentric--about sticking a flag on a rock, declaring it to be an independent country, and naming yourself emperor. Who hasn't wanted to do that, at one time or another?  Especially at tax time?  I've always admired Sealand.

And sometimes it seems the only way to avoid a big government is to set yourself in charge of a little one.  Seriously, as states come under increasing pressure--and react to it with increasing centralization and restrictions on individuals--I wonder if this may be the wave of the future.

If not for all of us, at least for those who can afford it.
But for now, see Business InsiderCheck Out 10 Of Europe's Oddest Micronations. Three examples:
Kingdom Of Elleore

Location: Denmark
Founded: 1944
Ruler: King Leo III
Estimated Population: Unknown. But the population grows in the summer time.
Estimated Size: 15,000 square meters.
About: A small island off Denmark's Northern coast, the Kingdom of Elleore was founded and declared independent when a group of school teachers bought it to organize a summer camp in 1944. The micronation has issued numerous stamps and coins and has had six monarchs since its independence. 
BjornSocialist Republic

Location: Sweden
Founded: 2005
Ruler: President Oskar Augustsson
Estimated Population: Usually Zero.
Estimated Size: Six square meters.
About: Located on a stone that "looks like a tractor," this tiny socialist state near the Bos Islands doesn't recognize Swedish laws and has its own hymn. It made the news when Sweden refused to recognize a marriage between two citizens that allegedly took place on the tiny rock. It claims to be the smallest republic in the world. 
Principality of Filettino

Location: ItalyFounded: 2011
Ruler: Luca Sellari
Estimated Population: 550
Estimated Size: 30 square miles
About: Demonstrating its frustration with Italy's economy and austerity measures, this village decided to break away from th Italian government in August this year. The village intended to invite Prince Emmanuel Filiberto from the deposed Italian royal family to be Prince of their principality.
See the others at Business Insider. And don't forget to renew your passport for Sealand!

22 December, 2011

A lesson for analysts

From the December 15th edition of Nightwatch, one of the best sources on current events:

NightWatchFor the night of 15 December 2011 
Administrative note: NightWatch will not be published this night in honor of the official end of the US intervention in Iraq. Now Iraq can rediscover a new Arab normality and identity. 
Lesson for new analysts: Whenever a senior official of any government feels the need to assert in public that a nine-year military commitment was worth it, that assessment obviously is not self-evident.

I have nothing to add.

21 December, 2011

Comparative politics

Kim Jong Il is dead.  He was a treacherous little monster, and he left a pathetic little empire.  Vaclav Havel is also dead, a man described by James Fallows as one who "helped make the world more decent and promising, through his combination of literary skill, civic responsibility, and deep humaneness."

Guess which one got the most attention in the press?  Guess which one had more tears--real or otherwise--shed for his passing?
“It is much more secure to be feared than to be loved. ”
   --Nicolo Machiavelli

It was a matter of time

Mubarak is out because he had outlived his usefulness to the military, and now more of the Egyptian people are realizing it. The big question: will the military find enough common ground with the Islamists to keep control of the sectors each cares about the most?

19 December, 2011

Well, *that* didn't take long...

One day after the US forces officially leave Iraq,

Nuri al-Maliki plunged Iraq into political turmoi by ordering the arrest of Tareq al-Hashemi, his respected Sunni vice president, on terrorism charges.
Further escalating tensions, he also asked parliament to hold a no-confidence vote to allow him to dismiss Saleh al-Mutlak, the Sunni deputy prime minister, who angered Mr Maliki by describing him as a "dictator" during a television interview last week.
Mr Hashemi was briefly detained after being escorted of a plane at Baghdad's airport, where he was attempting to catch a flight to the Kurdish city of Irbil, prompting speculation that he was attempting to flee.
Although Mr Hashemi was released, three of his bodyguards were arrested for "suspected terrorist activity". Following frantic negotiations brokered by the United States and Kurdish political leaders, Mr Maliki was said to have agreed not to implement the arrest warrant for now. 
But last night, judges barred Mr Hashemi from travelling overseas shortly before the arrest warrant was formally issued. Tanks were also deployed outside his home, as well as outside the houses of Mr Mutlak and a third senior Sunni politician.

It's not unexpected, but you'd hope he'd at least have the courtesy to not immediately embarass President Obama.  I suppose nobody wants to late to the Civil War.

18 December, 2011

The "complex"

Some people hate and distrust "big business."  Some people hate and distrust "big government."  And so often they argue with one another: Tea-Party versus Occupy, if you were.  Yet when you get down to details it doesn't really make sense to fight about.  Big business or bid government, it's often the same people.  A case in point:
So what are we arguing about?

17 December, 2011

It's a wonder anyone ever trusts eyewitness testimony

Just follow the instructions.  How did you do?

A few "secrets"

This is stuff I've already seen in the public domain, but the article at Danger Room does a good job of summing up some of the "secret" military and intelligence programs most people don't hear about.

I gotta wonder what hasn't been revealed (yet).

The war on poverty is over. Poverty won.

I don't know whether to trust all these statistics.  But they do seem to coincide with what I see when I monitor the current situation.  The guy who compiled them blames the Federal Reserve for all the problems, despite the fact that we also had a Fed through the post-war boom, etc.  It's part of what has been going on, but only part.  Nevertheless, here's some statistics:

  • #1 A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be "low income" or are living in poverty.
  • #2 Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be "low income" or impoverished.
  • #3 If the number of Americans that "wanted jobs" was the same today as it was back in 2007, the "official" unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11 percent.
  • #4 The average amount of time that a worker stays unemployed in the United States is now over 40 weeks.
  • #5 One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers.
  • #6 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.
  • #7 Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.
  • #8 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006.  Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.
  • #9 A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that approximately one out of every five Americans that do have a job consider themselves to be underemployed.
  • #10 According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
  • #11 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
  • #12 Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.
  • #13 One recent survey found that one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.
  • #14 The Federal Reserve recently announced that the total net worth of U.S. households declined by 4.1 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone.
  • #15 According to a recent study conducted by the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent.
  • #16 As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages.  According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percentof all U.S. adults were married.
  • #17 The U.S. Postal Service has lost more than 5 billion dollars over the past year.
  • #18 In Stockton, California home prices have declined 64 percent from where they were at when the housing market peaked.
  • #19 Nevada has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for 59 monthsin a row.
  • #20 If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.
  • #21 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant.  That figure is 63 percent larger than it was just ten years ago.
  • #22 New home construction in the United States is on pace to set a brand new all-time record low in 2011.
  • #23 As I have written about previously, 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 are now living with their parents.
  • #24 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
  • #25 According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.
  • #26 One study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
  • #27 If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
  • #28 The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.
  • #29 It is being projected that the U.S. trade deficit for 2011 will be 558.2 billion dollars.
  • #30 The retirement crisis in the United States just continues to get worse.  According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.
  • #31 Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.
  • #32 According to a study that was just released, CEO pay at America's biggest companies rose by 36.5% in just one recent 12 month period.
  • #33 Today, the "too big to fail" banks are larger than ever.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.
  • #34 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.
  • #35 According to an analysis of Census Bureau data done by the Pew Research Center, the median net worth for households led by someone 65 years of age or older is 47 times greater than the median net worth for households led by someone under the age of 35.
  • #36 If you can believe it, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.
  • #37 A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7%) than has ever been measured before.
  • #38 Child homelessness in the United States is now 33 percent higher than it was back in 2007.
  • #39 Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.
  • #40 Sadly, child poverty is absolutely exploding all over America.  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4% of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1% of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6% of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6% of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.
  • #41 Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
  • #42 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7% of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.
  • #43 A staggering 48.5% of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of government benefits.  Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.
  • #44 Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP.  Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.
  • #45 For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. federal government had a budget deficit ofnearly 1.3 trillion dollars.  That was the third year in a row that our budget deficit has topped one trillion dollars.
  • #46 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.
  • #47 Amazingly, the U.S. government has now accumulated a total debt of 15 trillion dollars.  When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.
  • #48 If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.
  • #49 The U.S. national debt has been increasing by an average of more than 4 billion dollars per day since the beginning of the Obama administration.
  • #50 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

Check out the ones you doubt.  Let me know if any are misrepresentations.  At first glance, it looks like things are worse than most people (especially government) would like to admit.