Change in Direction Needed by Mark Wohlschlegel
I am by nature an optimist—I have all my life looked at the glass and concluded that it was half full not half empty. I am an engineer and technologist by profession—so I question things and therefore classify myself as a realist as well. Through some research that I have recently done and through my good friend Tom Boyton, who is owner and President of WJTW radio Jupiter, Florida who I thank for many of the statistics that follow, I would like to make a case for the fact that our current direction in our country is wrong, and that we must make some significant re-direction of priorities and fix what is clearly broken. Solving problems requires first understanding the problem. What concerns me most is that our leaders and elected representative don’t seem to get it and we the people, simply are not elevating our voices to put sufficient pressure on these elected officials to change course. Therefore, I feel that we all have a personal obligation to educate and present facts to as many people as we can to engage them in this debate and generate interest and involvement. This is our country—and there are no guarantees for continued prosperity. We can through action and inaction, destroy what our forefathers have handed to us.
I also love history and know that great nations and nation states that once found themselves “on top of the world” and enjoyed great prosperity through conscious decision destroyed wealth and their positions in the world. I am a believer in the fact that basic beliefs lead to decisions, and decision then lead to consequences. If one’s basic beliefs are not sound, then bad decisions follow and in turn bad consequences and outcomes will result. I grew up under the guidance that solid values and hard work will result in prosperity. I was blessed to have been born in the USA—and to have lived under a government for the most part that adhered to basic principals set forth by our founders. Our leaders practiced what our founders had framed for us. Unfortunately, we have significantly drifted from these principals, and unless we can change our current course, we are destined to some pretty bad outcomes. I believe we have already strayed from what has made our country great, and the outcomes are pretty apparent by the stats I present below. So I ask the question, do you think we are headed in the right direction as a country? If the answer to this is no—then get involved—make your voices heard. It is only through the voices of the people that things will be set back on course.
1. Today, 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 US 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 US government would be up to 11 percent or higher.
4. The average amount of time that a worker stays unemployed in the US is now over 40 weeks.
5. A recent survey found that 77 percent of all US small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers and we all know that the engine that drives employment in the US is not large corporations it is small businesses.
6. There are fewer payroll jobs in the US 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 US has declined by a total of 6.8% accounting 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 recent Gallup poll 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 US adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
11. Back in 1980, less than 30 percent of all jobs in the US were low income jobs. Today, more than 40 percent of all jobs in the US 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 of this year, only 81.2% 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 US 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 US 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 percent of all US adults were married.
17. The US Postal service has lost more than 5 billion dollars over the past year
18. In Stockton, CA home prices have declined 64 percent from where they were in 2005-2006
19. Nevada has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for 59 months in a row
20. The median price of a home in Detroit is now $6,000
21. According to the US Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant. That figure is 63 percent larger than it was 10 years ago.
22. New home construction in the US is on pace to set a brand new all-time record low in 2011
23. 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 are now living with their parents.
24. Electricity bills in the US 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 percent of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today, they account for approximately 16.3 percent.
26. A recent study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.
27. One out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.
28. The US spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the US.
29. Projections for the US trade deficit for 2011 will be $558.2 billion.
30. The retirement crisis in the US just continues to get worse. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all Americans 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 federal poverty line.
32. According to an analysis by the 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 55.
33. 37 percent of all US households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.
34. A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7 percent) than has ever been measured before.
35. Child homelessness in the US is now 33 percent higher than it was back in 2007
36. . Sadly, child poverty is absolutely exploding all over America. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty. 40.1 percent of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty. 52.6% of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty. 53.6 percent of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.
37. Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
38. . In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income. Today, government transfer programs account for more than 18 percent of all income.
39. 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.
40. Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP. Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.
41. For fiscal year 2011, the US federal government had a budget deficit of nearly 1.3 trillion dollars; that was the third year in a row that our budget deficit has topped a trillion dollars. Translated, we are spending over a trillion dollars more than we are taking in.
42. . If Bill Gates one of the wealthiest people in the world gave every single penny of his fortune to the US government, it would only cover the US budget deficit for about 15 days.
43. The US government has now accumulated a total debt of 15 trillion dollars. When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was 10.6 trillion dollars.
44. . If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the US national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.
45. . The US national debt has been increasing by an average of more than 4 billion dollars per day since the beginning of the Obama administration.
46. During the Obama administration, the US government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.
A trend that must be broken—
An article that appeared in the Bangor Daily News stated that in the state of Maine, “445,074 Mainers paid state income tax while 453,194 received some sort of state aid. In Maine, Medicaid, welfare, food stamps and subsidies for education have a combined enrollment of 660,000.”
Nationally, only 53% of all Americans living in households pay income taxes. Translated—47% or nearly half of all Americans don’t pay any federal income taxes.
We are continuing to depend on fewer and fewer wealth producers to pay for those who are on the take. This is re-distribution—this is socialism—which has proven to fail over and over again. This trend must be reversed—socialism works always for a while—until you run out of other people’s money!
We now have 92 million people on public assistance in one form or another. This includes 33 million children or 45% of all the people under the age of 18. Medicaid is the largest of all government programs and covers 74 million people—translated—one in four Americans. Food stamps now cover 34 million Americans or one in nine people! Almost 20 million people live on cash welfare and 11 million people live in public housing. Our federal policies do in fact incentivize people to depend on federal government programs and discourage job creation. Allowed to continue, this truly is a formula for disaster.
Understand our direction, and understand it is unsustainable. Have the guts to get involved and make your voices heard. Engage people, friends, acquaintances, young people, we are entering one of the most significant political elections in the history of our country. If we do not change the direction that our country is headed, it will be destroyed.