FRANCE 24 / BATTLE FOR WORLD – November 12, 2018: The article highlights that after years of low, low prices, fed by near-zero interest rates in a convalescing economy, Americans are waking up to costlier consumer living, to their surprise.
Americans are finding that everyday household staples like diapers, toothpaste, shampoo and dishwashing liquid — not to mention soft drinks, cookies, chocolate, cat litter and auto products — have all started getting more expensive, a trend expected to continue early next year.
During the most recent earnings season, companies announced that these price hikes have typically ranged from two percent to 10 percent. And they also stand in stark contrast to the usually unending sales and promotions from major retailers like Walmart and Amazon.
According to the reason, the higher prices are aimed to pad revenues for companies like Apple, which has just raised sticker prices for its new MacBook Air laptops and iPads by 20 percent and 25 percent.
But for a growing number of businesses, they also represent a response to mounting transportation costs. And the stronger US dollar is similarly cutting into foreign earnings — while a tight labor supply is at last pushing up wages.
Businesses for the moment believe that Americans are willing to pay more, with consumer confidence near record highs, but it remains to be seen if the trend will continue.
BLOOMBERG / BATTLE FOR WORLD – November 21, 2018: The articles highlights the story of L., a 57-year-old anthropology professor. It was just after 10 p.m. on an overcast September night in Los Angeles, and L. was tired from a long day of class prep, teaching, and grading papers; fed her Chihuahua-dachshund mix a freeze-dried chicken strip, swapped her cigarette trousers for stretchy black yoga pants, and began to unfold a set of white sheets and a beige cotton blanket to make up her bed.
But first, she had to recline the passenger seat of her 2015 Nissan Leaf as far as it would go—that being her bed in the parking lot she had called home for almost three months. Playing on her iPad The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as she drifted off for another night. “Like sleeping on an airplane—but not in first class,” she said. That was in part by design. “I don’t want to get more comfortable. I want to get out of here.”
L., who asked to go by her middle initial for fear of losing her job, couldn’t afford her apartment rent earlier this year after failing to cobble together enough teaching assignments at two community colleges. By July she had exhausted her savings and turned to a local nonprofit called Safe Parking L.A., which outfits a handful of lots around the city with security guards, port-a-potties, Wi-Fi, and solar-powered electrical chargers. Sleeping in her car allowed her to save for a deposit on an apartment. On that night in late September, under basketball hoops owned by an Episcopal church in Koreatown, she was one of 16 people in 12 vehicles. Ten of them were female, two were children, and half were employed.
The headline of the press release announcing the results of the county’s latest homeless census strikes a note of progress: “2018 Homeless Count Shows First Decrease in Four Years.” The homeless population is still high, at 52,765—up 47 percent from 2012. Those who’d become homeless for the first time jumped 16 percent from last year, to 9,322 people, and the county provided shelter for roughly 5,000 fewer people than in 2011.
It’s most stark and visible out West, where shortages of shelter beds force people to sleep in their vehicles or on the street. The reason the situation has gotten worse is simple enough to understand, even if it defies easy solution: A toxic combo of slow wage growth and skyrocketing rents has put housing out of reach for a greater number of people. And the rising housing costs don’t predestine people to homelessness. But without the right interventions, the connection can become malignant.
The Trump administration’s proposal to hike rents on people receiving federal housing vouchers, and require they work, would only make the goals more elusive. And demand for rental assistance has long outstripped supply, leading to yearslong waits for people who want help. …
NBC NEWS / BATTLE FOR WORLD – November 17, 2018: The article highlights that the total debt shouldered by Americans has hit another record high, rising to $13.5 trillion in the last quarter, while an unusual jump in student-loan delinquencies could provide another signal that the nation’s economic expansion is growing old.
The article underlines that the total household debt is now $837 billion higher than its previous peak, which was in 2008 before the recession.
And that the flows of student debt has gone into serious delinquency — of 90 or more days — rose to 9.1 percent in the third quarter from 8.6 percent in the previous quarter, according to data released from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The delinquency flows have been rising on auto debt since 2012 and on credit card debt since last year (2017), which could raise red flags for economists.
The world’s largest economy, the United States, has grown well above potential this year (2018) on the back of strong consumer spending and the lowest unemployment rate since the 1960s. If growth continues for another year it will be the longest ever.
CNS NEWS / BATTLE FOR WORLD – November 9, 2018: The article highlights that the US Census Bureau has released new data that strengthens the case for calling the current generation of American children “The Welfare Generation.”
Among American residents under 18 years of age in 2017, according to the Census Bureau, 51.7 percent lived in households in which one or more persons received benefits from a means-tested government program.
That was down slightly from the 52.1 percent of Americans under 18 in 2016 who lived in households receiving means-tested government assistance. (Also, because this new Census Bureau estimate is for 2017, it predates the significant economic and job growth the United States has seen in 2018).
51 million households in the United States struggle with rent, food
CNN – May 18, 2018: The article highlights that almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food, and that the economy may be chugging along, but many Americans are still struggling to afford a basic middle class life.
Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.
The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed “to survive in the modern economy.”
“Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem,” said Stephanie Hoopes, the project’s director.
The Coming Economic Collapse
CNBC / BATTLE FOR WORLD – October 13, 2018: The article highlights: Some 40 percent of middle-class Americans are at risk of poverty in retirement, due to depressed earnings and asset values and increased health-care costs. And that nearly three-quarters of workers now plan to work past traditional retirement age. Both workers and employers must focus on a fix: the former by saving more, the latter by ensuring that defined benefit plans are efficient and sufficient.
United States in the decline where nearly half of middle-class Americans face a slide into poverty as they enter their retirement, a recent study by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School has concluded.
Due to risks driven by depressed earnings, depressed asset values and increased health-care costs — causing 74 percent of Americans planning to work past traditional retirement age. Adding to the problem, both private and public pension plans have been allowed to become seriously underfunded. So what can be done?
The ongoing changes in the structure of the U.S. economy, combined with increased health-care costs and lack of saving, have created a financial trap for millions of American workers heading into retirement.
And roughly 40 percent of Americans who are considered middle class (based on their income levels) will fall into poverty or near poverty by the time they reach age 65, according to the study.
APNEWS | By Sarah Skidmore Sell – August 28, 2018: The article highlights that despite a strong economy, about 40 percent of American families struggled to meet at least one of their basic needs last year, including paying for food, health care, housing or utilities.
That’s according to an Urban Institute survey of nearly 7,600 adults that found that the difficulties were most prevalent among adults with lower incomes or health issues. But it also revealed that people from all walks of life were running into similar hardships.
The findings issued Tuesday (August 28) by the nonprofit research organization highlight the financial strains experienced by many Americans in an otherwise strong economy.
The average unemployment rate for 2017 was 4.4 percent, a low that followed years of decline. But having a job doesn’t ensure families will be able to meet their basic needs, said Michael Karpman, one of the study’s authors. Among the households with at least one working adult, more than 30 percent reported hardship.
“Economic growth and low unemployment alone do not ensure everyone can meet their basic needs,” the authors wrote.
Food insecurity was the most common challenge: More than 23 percent of households struggled to feed their family at some point during the year. That was followed by problems paying a family medical bill, reported by about 18 percent. A similar percentage didn’t seek care for a medical need because of the cost.
CNS NEWS – August 22, 2018: The article highlights: Will they be called The Welfare Generation?
Today, they are Americans under 18 years of age growing up in a country where the majority of their peers live in households that take “means-tested assistance” from the government.
Americans in all the age brackets up to age 44 analyzed by the Census Bureau were more likely to be living in a household that received means-tested government assistance than the overall national rate of 35.9 percent.
America’s prosperity is ultimately and inextricably tied to America’s culture. If we want to see the former flourish, the latter must also.
Why America isn’t the greatest country in the world anymore
August 13, 2018: The opening scene of HBO’s “The Newsroom”.
George Carlin on the American Dream
August 12, 2018: George Carlin about America.
Governments Don’t Rule The World. Goldman Sachs Rule The World
RT – August 14, 2018 (posted September 28, 2011): Alessio Rastani, an independent trader, had an eye opening interview with BBC where he stated Goldman Sachs and not governments rule the world. He went on to say that he dreams of economies going into recession. Rastani has taken a lot of heat from the media, claiming that he is a phony. Kristine Frazao investigates to see if Rastani’s statement has any credibility.
The Coming Economic Collapse
Goldman Sachs rules the world – Trader Interview BBC
MSNOWORLD ORDER – August 14, 2018 (posted September 28, 2011): The BBC presenters were speechless when an independent trader admitted that stock market crashes are planned and that Goldman Sachs controls the banking world.
NEW YORK POST – August 12, 2018: The article highlights that despite a booming economy, many Americans are having trouble paying credit card bills, industry observers warn.
An increasing number of auto borrowers are also asking for more time to pay.
These trends disturb card industry experts.
“It is a problem we should watch,” says Bill Hardekopf, founder of LowCards.com.
“I would say that credit card defaults is definitely a cause for concern,” says Joe Resendiz, an analyst with ValuePenguin, which tracks the credit industry.
Resendiz noted the recent second quarter net credit card default numbers rose for Bank of America and JPMorgan. In an otherwise rosy report, the amount of in-default charge card bills rose by 10 percent and 9 percent respectively, compared with the same period in 2017.
NEW YORK TIMES – August 6, 2018: The article highlights that among the rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by the dismal reality of bankruptcy.
The signs of potential trouble, said the article includes vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research data sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study has found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.
Driving the surge, compounding the problem, the study suggests, is a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals, who are bearing an ever-greater responsibility for their own financial well-being as the social safety net shrinks.
And the transfer has come in the form of, among other things, longer waits for full Social Security benefits, the replacement of employer-provided pensions with 401(k) savings plans and more out-of-pocket spending on health care. Declining incomes continue to impact the situation, whether in retirement or leading up to it, compounding the challenge among older Americans.
Americans Struggling to Make Ends Meet | A Hidden America with Diane Sawyer (Nightline)
ABS NEWS – August 13, 2018: From fast food workers to shuttle bus drivers, many Americans aren’t able to afford housing or pay the bills on current wages.
YAHOO – August 1, 2018: The article highlights stories of Americans applying for welfare: There was the working mother of three girls who fell silent as her daughter asked, “Mom, are they going to kill you?”
There was the teenager who feared she would be left to care for her three younger siblings after watching her mother frantically hide her family during the investigator’s visit.
And there was the homeless mother of two who was denied benefits until she was forced to confront her abusive stepfather.
These stories — of unannounced, warrantless home searches — provide a brief glimpse into the harrowing experiences impoverished parents and individuals have gone through when applying for public assistance in San Diego.
Project 100%, a program launched in 1997 and currently managed by the San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency, employs investigators to go into the homes of potential welfare recipients in order to further verify eligibility for government aid.
Joni Halpern has been fighting for the rights of low-income individuals and welfare recipients, and she believes that the sole purpose of Project 100% is to falsely unearth evidence of fraud. “You passed all the verification requirements. You overcame all the obstacles. You did the face-to-face interviews. You showed up with all your documents. They checked all the databases. And you came out eligible for this meager little but of public assistance,” said Halpern. “And Project 100% said, ‘We’re not finished with you yet.’”
Halpern said that the experiences of her clients are not only a disturbing invasion of privacy, but they are also deeply demoralizing:
CBS NEWS – Juky 31, 2018: The article highlights that the number of people who live in their vehicles because they can’t find affordable housing is on the rise, even though the practice is illegal in many U.S. cities.
According to the article, the number of people residing in campers and other vehicles surged 46 percent over the past year, a recent homeless census in Seattle’s King County, Washington found. The problem is “exploding” in cities with expensive housing markets, including Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco, according to Governing magazine.
And that the problem of vehicle residency is national in scope, although its impact may be more “acutely felt in urban areas where space is more limited,” said Sara Rankin, an assistant professor law at Seattle University and the director of Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, in an email to CBS MoneyWatch.
Challenges abound for people who live in their vehicles, ranging from racking up parking tickets to finding a safe place to park and shower, advocates say.
‘It’s incredibly expensive to be poor in America’ – Redacted Tonight
RT – June 2, 2018: The Redacted Tonight team takes a look at the striking number of poor people – 40 million – living in the United States, despite the country having a reputation as being one of the wealthiest and most successful in the world.
“About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty,” writes Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, in his new report.
“40 million continue to live in poverty. 40 million people! That’s almost like the population of France. That’s a lot. Or it’s like 7 Irelands!” said the show’s host, John F. O’Donnell.
The report says that, despite the US being among the world’s most powerful and technologically-advanced nations, its inequality level is higher than in most European states, and that Americans “live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies.” At the same time, the US is home to over 25 percent of the world’s 2,208 billionaires.
“This is shocking to me! Because I was always told that America is the greatest country in the world,” O’Donnell remarked. “Nobody ever told me America is the greatest country in the world at keeping people poor. That’s messed up!”
NIMBY In America: The US Struggles With Its Large Homeless Population
SPUTNIKNEWS – March 24, 2018: A bitterly-fought political campaign to address the rapidly-growing homeless population in a wealthy southern California county points to the yawning inequality gap in the US.
A wide-ranging plan in southern California’s Orange County that was intended to relocate hundreds of homeless — including children, women and the elderly who had been forcefully kicked out of long-term camps by placing them into nearby shelters — has been halted after well-heeled residents raised an outcry.
Even as local politicians, police and health care professionals assert that addressing the needs of the homeless is a priority, residents in the US are fighting tooth and nail to prevent relocating poverty-stricken groups to shelters anywhere near their homes, shops and schools.
The failure of the Orange County program — and that of many other similar plans in the wealthiest country in the world — points to a unique issue at the center of the US homeless crisis: everyone agrees that the unsheltered must be assisted, but nobody wants them anywhere close.
American Illusion? Homelessness continues to plague neighborhoods in Los Angeles
RT – March 31, 2018: The city of Los Angeles is associated with celebrities, luxury and fame. However, it has another side. Official figures suggest homelessness has increased 43% between 2013 and 2017. The Los Angeles City Council is now considering a plan to provide housing for every homeless person in the city.
TELEGRAPH – August 9, 2018: The article highlights that “homeless people” are wearing barcodes around their necks in the country of Britain in an attempt to increase donations in a cashless society, under an Oxford University backed initiative.
A new social innovation project, called Greater Change, hands homeless people a QR code, similar to the kind issued for online tickets.
Passersby who wish to give money – but who may not have any change in their pocket – can scan the code using their smart phone, and make an online payment to the person.
The donation goes into an account which is managed by a case worker who ensures that the money is spent on agreed targets, such as saving for a rental deposit or a new passport.
“The problem we’re trying to solve here is that we live in an increasingly cashless society and as well as this when people give they worry about what this money might be spent on,” Alex McCallion, founder of Greater Change, told the BBC.
THE GUARDIAN – August 16, 2018 (posted October 13, 2016): Donald Trump was more popular in McDowell County than anywhere else in America during the Republican primaries.
Macron unveils $9bn plan to combat poverty in France
RT – September 13, 2018: The article highlights that French President Emmanuel Macron, often branded by critics as the president of the rich, on Thursday unveiled an €8 billion ($9 billion) plan to tackle poverty. “I don’t want a plan to help poor people to better live poor. I want them to be given the choice, and the possibility, not to be poor anymore,” the president said.
The new program focuses on better education for poor children and providing help to unemployed people to get back to work, rather than financial aid only. Measures include places in nursery to free up parents for job or training, school breakfasts in poor neighborhoods and compulsory job training for school leavers under 18. About 14 percent of France’s population lives below the poverty line, AP said, citing statistics agency Insee.