Our Canadian correspondent Rembrandt Clancy has translated a German-language Kopp Online article by Michael Snyder that presents an outsider’s view of the current cultural crisis in the United States
The translator includes these notes:
1. All of the links, except one, belong to the author, and all but three point to English language sources. There are no quotations from German language sources. Therefore all quotations are taken directly from their corresponding English language articles. The German translation of the English quotations differs in style and length from the English originals, the former being freer, slightly longer and more polished, but the central meaning remains unchanged. There are two mistakes in his German translation of the English quotations, but I did not provide the otherwise usual notation in this case. 2. The one link I provide in square brackets is for EBT for readers outside the US. 3. One of the three German language links points to a Wiki article that describes a “flash mob”. I redirected this link to the corresponding English language Wiki. I imagine most readers know what a flash mob is, but it is there just in case. 4. The remaining two German language links are identified as such in square brackets.
The German original of this article by Michael Snyder appeared at Kopp Online on 3 January 2014.
The translated article:
Is the USA Quickly Reaching her Breaking Point? — Anger Increases among the People as Unemployment Benefits are Reduced.
by Michael Snyder
In the USA, approximately 50 million presently live in poverty, and more than 100 million Americans are dependent on monthly social transfer payments from the state. Due to the collapse of the middle class, poverty is reaching previously unimagined levels. And although the stock markets have climbed to one record high after another, the scale of the fury and frustration which is seething under the surface is increasing by the day. Moreover, on 28 December the extended unemployment benefits lapsed for 1.3 million Americans [note from the Baron: the Senate just voted yesterday to extend these yet again]; accordingly, by the end of 2014, it is likely that roughly five million additional unemployed Americans will lose their entitlement to (extended) unemployment benefits.
As I have previously reported, nutritional assistance for 47 million Americans [German article] has recently been reduced. Such numbers yield ideal conditions for the emergence of a “social tsunami”. How long will it be before we are to witness the venting of this anger and frustration in our major cities? Is America about to reach her breaking point?
Should you consider the title of this article too “alarmist”, perhaps a few important events of the last weeks have escaped your attention. For example, a brawl involving 600 participants broke out near a movie theatre in Jacksonville, Florida on Christmas Eve:
Five teenagers were arrested when a 600-person brawl broke out in a Florida movie theater’s parking lot on Christmas night.
Described by police as a “melee,” the fight occurred around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday outside the Hollywood River City 14 movie theater in Jacksonville when a group tried to storm the theater’s doors without purchasing tickets, police said. Several had rushed an off-duty police officer working as a security guard.
The officer “administered pepper spray to disperse the group, locked the doors and called for backup, following protocol,” said Lauri-Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Soon after the pepper spray was used, “upward of 600 people moving throughout a parking lot about the size of a football field began fighting, disrupting and jumping on cars,” she said.
A wild flash mob stormed and trashed a Brooklyn mall, causing so much chaos that the shopping center was forced to close during post-Christmas sales, sources said Friday.
More than 400 crazed teens — who mistakenly thought the rapper Fabolous would perform — erupted into brawls all over Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Mill Basin on Thursday at 5 p.m., sources said.
The troublemakers looted and ransacked several stores as panicked shoppers ran for the exits and clerks scrambled to pull down metal gates.
In addition, the fact that the new Air Jordan sneakers were released to stores shortly before Christmas caused mini-riots and brawls throughout the country.
Why is all this happening?
Naturally, people will conjure up all kinds of different theories to explain these outbreaks of violence, but surely we can all be agreed that these events point to the rise of a very high level of rage and frustration in the USA.
Presently, roughly six million Americans between the ages of 16 to 24 attend no school, undergo no vocational training and have no employment. This means that a gigantic powder keg is developing among very frustrated young people who have nothing else to do but cause trouble. In several large cities it has become an enormous problem. There are some large cities each with more than 100,000 juveniles who only hang about.
Just look at some of the nation’s largest cities. Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, Calif., all have more than 100,000 idle youth, the Opportunity Nation report found.
But the Obama administration takes the position that this is really not a problem. The government even maintains that unemployment is steadily decreasing and that there are numerous opportunities and possibilities for everyone. But that is a colossal lie. Shortly before the last recession, 63 percent of all Americans of employable age had work. During the recession this value sank to under 59 percent and has not risen since.
The claim that we are in the middle of a “recovery in the labour market” is simply ridiculous. But most of our politicians appear to believe this lie, and they cite it as justification for the reduction in unemployment benefits.
It is a bitter irony that these reductions give the impression that unemployment has declined even further. Millions of unemployed workers will now be dropped from the unemployment statistics since they are no longer considered “available on the labour market”. The data suggest that these manipulations could contribute to a decrease in the official unemployment rate by as much as half a percentage point. What kind of cynicism is becoming apparent here? Many people will have to suffer greatly from having their unemployment benefits reduced. Consider the case of the 63-year-old paralegal, Laura Walker:
“Not all of us have savings and a lot of us have to take care of family because of what happened in the economy,” said Walker, of Santa Clarita, who said she has applied for at least three jobs a week and shares an apartment with her unemployed son, his wife and two children. “It’s going to put my family and me out on the streets.”
And what will she do now? At the moment it seems to her that there remains only a single possibility:
“I just don’t know what to do except pray.”
But it is not only the unemployed who will have their social benefits reduced. As I have just mentioned, 47 million US recipients of nutritional assistance have had to accept reductions. The following extract is from an article by Mac Slavo:
Earlier this year government benefits for nutritional assistance were reduced after the expiration of emergency legislation that was enacted following the 2008 financial collapse. Nearly all of the 48 million people receiving food stamp distributions were affected. The move led to warnings from food pantries and recipients around the country who said that the $40 billion in cuts would leave many American families without the ability to put food on dinner tables [German article] across America. According to Feed America, the roughly $29 per family that would no longer appear on their EBT cards will amount to about 1.5 billion meals in 2014. [EBT stands for “Electronic Benefit Transfer”]
The fact that the dependence on social benefits from the government has risen to an all-time high, even in the middle of a putative “economic upswing”, is just more proof that the middle class is haemorrhaging massively. For years, middle class families have been constantly searching for new ways to survive. But now it is becoming clear that the middle class is quickly approaching the absolute limit of their ability to cope.
Rising income inequality is starting to hit home for many American households as they run short of places to reach for a few extra bucks.
As the gap between the rich and poor widened over the last three decades, families at the bottom found ways to deal with the squeeze on earnings. Housewives joined the workforce. Husbands took second jobs and labored longer hours. Homeowners tapped into the rising value of their properties to borrow money to spend.
Those strategies finally may have run their course as women’s participation in the labor force has peaked and the bursting of the house-price bubble has left many Americans underwater on their mortgages.
But although the Obama administration and the established media would again and again have us believe that the economy is picking up, most Americans no longer buy what they are being told. According to a new CNN poll, 70 percent of Americans believe that “the economy is generally in poor shape”.
But despite the sustained economic downturn, not all Americans react with violence to their increasingly desperate situations. Many are suffering in silence and hoping that the situation will soon improve for them. But the number of people who are suffering is increasing with each passing year. CNN recently devoted an article to the continuing growth of “tent cities” throughout the whole of America:
The total number of homeless people residing in tents and makeshift homes is unknown. Many of these communities are small and hidden from public view, while others claim hundreds of residents and are sprinkled through major urban areas.
Some, like those tucked under roadways, are temporary and relocate frequently. Their conditions are vile, unsanitary and fail to provide refuge from storms and winds. Then there are communities, such as Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon, that have a more sustained presence. The 13-year-old “ecovillage” set up by homeless people is hygienic and self-sufficient.
Preliminary findings by The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty show that tent cities have been documented in almost every state, and they’re growing.
How can we solve this problem? Are there any solutions at all which can lead us out of this misery?
Of course there are solutions. But you had better not bet that they will automatically implement themselves. For again and again the American people tend to support precisely the same people who got them into this regrettable situation in the first place. For instance, the results of a recently published Gallup poll show by a wide margin that Barack Obama is the most admired man in America. Among women, likewise by a wide margin, Hillary Clinton takes first place. And the established media will continue to have us believe that we can trust “leaders” like Obama, Clinton, Reid, Boehner, McConnell and Pelosi and that they will lead us out of the crisis. If you believe that, then there is a bridge I would gladly sell you.
The American people have to stop placing their trust in the interminable propaganda presented to them on their televisions. The nice faces which bring “the latest news” into your homes do not have the slightest interest in your welfare, nor do they have any interest in attaining what is best for you. The news, controlled by the corporate media, is to a high degree predefined, and one can be exposed to same material on practically every channel. Should you harbour even the slightest doubt about this, simply watch this video.
Hat tip: Vederso.