Saturday, July 03, 2010

50 Random Facts that Make You Wonder What in the World Has Happened to America ...and One Random Fact (top) that May Be the Final Answer

Above: A recent view from space of powder-blue UN vehicles lined up on runways near St. Augustine, Florida. (Go here to see original, and magnify this view.)

50 Random Facts That Make You Wonder What In The World Has Happened To America

Our world is changing at a pace that is so staggering these days that it can be really hard to fully grasp the significance of what we are witnessing.  Hopefully the collection of random facts below will help you to "connect the dots" just a little bit.  On one level, the facts below may not seem related.  However, what they all do have in common is that they show just how much the United States has fundamentally changed.  Do you ever just sit back and wonder what in the world has happened to America?  The truth is that the America that so many of us once loved so much has been shattered into a thousand pieces.  The "land of the free and the home of the brave" has been transformed into a socialized Big Brother nanny state that is oozing with corruption and has accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  The greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen is falling apart before our very eyes, and even when our politicians actually try to do something right (which is quite rare) the end result is still a bunch of garbage.  For those who still love this land (and there are a lot of us) it is heartbreaking to watch America slowly die.

The following are 50 random facts that show just how dramatically America has changed....

#50) A new report released by the United Nations is publicly calling for the establishment of a world currency and none of the major news networks are even covering it.

#49) The state of California is so broke that Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered California State Controller John Chiang to reduce state worker pay for July to the federal minimum allowed by law -- $7.25 an hour for most state workers.

#48) A police officer in Oklahoma recently tasered an 86-year-old disabled grandma in her bed and stepped on her oxygen hose until she couldn't breathe because they considered her to be a "threat".

#47) In early 2009, U.S. net national savings as a percentage of GDP went negative for the first time since 1952, and it has continued its downward trend since then.

#46) Corexit 9500 is so incredibly toxic that the UK's Marine Management Organization has completely banned it, so if there was a major oil spill in the North Sea, BP would not be able to use it.  And yet BP has dumped over a million gallons of dispersants such as Corexit 9500 into the Gulf of Mexico.

#45) For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

#44) It has come out that one employee used a Federal Emergency Management Agency credit card to buy $4,318 in "Happy Birthday" gift cards.  Two other FEMA officials charged the cost of 360 golf umbrellas ($9,000) to the taxpayers.

#43) Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo received $389,000 from the U.S. government to pay 100 residents of Buffalo $45 each to record how much malt liquor they drink and how much pot they smoke each day.

#42) The average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen to an all-time high.

#41) The bottom 40 percent of all income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

#40) In the U.S., the average federal worker now earns about twice as much as the average worker in the private sector.

#39) Back in 1950 each retiree's Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 workers.  Today, each retiree's Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers.  By 2025 it is projected that there will be approximately two workers for each retiree.

#38) According to a U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress, the U.S. national debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015.

#37) The federal government actually has the gall to ask for online donations that will supposedly go towards paying off the national debt.

#36) The Cactus Bug Project at the University Of Florida was allocated $325,394 in economic stimulus funds to study the mating decisions of cactus bugs.

#35) A dinner cruise company in Chicago got nearly $1 million in economic stimulus funds to combat terrorism.

#34) It is being reported that a 6-year-old girl from Ohio is on the "no fly" list maintained by U.S. Homeland Security.

#33) During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

#32) According to a new report, Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality and far less efficiency.

#31) Some experts are warning that the cost of bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could reach as high as $1 trillion.

#30) The FDA has announced that the offspring of cloned animals could be in our food supply right now and that there is nothing that they can do about it.

#29) In May, sales of new homes in the United States dropped to the lowest level ever recorded.

#28) In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1.  Since the year 2000, that ratio has ranged between 300 to 500 to one.

#27) Federal border officials recently said that Mexican drug cartels have not only set up shop on American soil, they are actually maintaining lookout bases in strategic locations in the hills of southern Arizona.

#26) The U.S. government has declared some parts of Arizona off limits to U.S. citizens because of the threat of violence from Mexican drug smugglers.

#25) According to the credit card repayment calculator, if you owe $6000 on a credit card with a 20 percent interest rate and only pay the minimum payment each time, it will take you 54 years to pay off that credit card.  During those 54 years you will pay $26,168 in interest rate charges in addition to the $6000 in principal that you are required to pay back.

#24) According to prepared testimony by Goldman Sachs Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn, Goldman Sachs shorted roughly $615 million of the collateralized debt obligations and residential mortgage-backed securities the firm underwrote since late 2006.

#23) The six biggest banks in the United States now possess assets equivalent to 60 percent of America's gross national product.

#22) Four of the biggest U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup) had a "perfect quarter" with zero days of trading losses during the first quarter of 2010.

#21) 1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 - a 32 percent increase over 2008.

#20) BP has hired private security contractors to keep the American people away from oil cleanup sites and nobody seems to care.

#19) Barack Obama is calling for a "civilian expeditionary force" to be sent to Afghanistan and Iraq to help overburdened military troops build infrastructure.

#18) On June 18th, two Christians decided that they would peacefully pass out copies of the gospel of John on a public sidewalk outside a public Arab festival in Dearborn, Michigan and within 3 minutes 8 policemen surrounded them and placed them under arrest.

#17) It is being reported that sales of foreclosed homes in Florida made up nearly 40 percent of all home purchases in the first part of this year.

#16) During a recent interview with Larry King, former first lady Laura Bush revealed to the world that she is actually in favor of legalized gay marriage and a woman's "right" to abortion.

#15) Scientists at Columbia University are warning that the dose of radiation from the new full body security scanners going into airports all over the United States could be up to 20 times higher than originally estimated.

#14) 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.

#13) The FDIC's deposit insurance fund now has negative 20.7 billion dollars in it, which represents a slight improvement from the end of 2009.

#12) The judge that BP is pushing for to hear an estimated 200 lawsuits on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster gets tens of thousands of dollars a year in oil royalties and is paid travel expenses to industry conferences.

#11) In recent years the U.S. government has spent $2.6 million tax dollars to study the drinking habits of Chinese prostitutes and $400,000 tax dollars to pay researchers to cruise six bars in Buenos Aires, Argentina to find out why gay men engage in risky sexual behavior when drunk.

#10) U.S. officials say that more than three billion dollars in cash (much of it aid money paid for by U.S. taxpayers) has been stolen by corrupt officials in Afghanistan and flown out of Kabul International Airport in recent years.

#9) According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the baggage check fees collected by U.S. airlines shot up 33% in the first quarter of 2010 to $769 million.

#8) Three California high school students are fighting for their right to show their American patriotism - even on a Mexican holiday - after they were forced to remove their American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.

#7) Right now, interest on the U.S. national debt and spending on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare are somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 percent of GDP.  By 2080, they are projected to eat up approximately 50 percent of GDP.

#6) The total of all government, corporate and consumer debt in the United States is now about 360 percent of GDP.

#5) A 6-year-old girl was recently handcuffed and sent to a mental facility after throwing temper tantrums at her elementary school.

#4) In Florida, students have been arrested by police for things as simple as bringing a plastic butter knife to school, throwing an eraser, and drawing a picture of a gun.

#3) School officials in one town in Massachusetts are refusing to allow students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

#2) According to one new study, approximately 21 percent of children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010.

#1) Since 1973, more than 50 million babies have been murdered in abortion facilities across the United States.
Blogger's Note: After I posted the above, some of my liberal readers pointed out that it has a distinctly right-wing bias that I had missed (please read their comments below).  The real problem at the root of these 50 (maybe not so) randomly chosen facts is a corrupt U.S. government.  On that liberals and conservatives can both agree. But the anonymous author of these facts terms our government a "socialized Big Brother nanny state" -- which is as far from the truth as one can get.  Surely the U.S. govt is the least socialized in the first world.  Health care costs Americans about twice as much as it does in any other country, and the uninsured -- and even many the insured -- can end up not getting the operation they need and/or ending in "the poor house" because of their illness.  In France (where I'm currently visiting) Securite Social refers to the French government's health insurance program.  Far from being a "death panel," it has recently covered major operations for both of my two brothers-in-law, which cost them little beyond what they've paid in taxes.  My brothers-in-law also have small but adequate government-provided pensions -- the equivalent of American Social Security.  And, as we speak, the American government (I'm talking both Republicans and Democrats in the Congress and a Democrat in the White House) are brewing a plan to cut Social Security in order to be "fiscally responsible."  But Americans have paid for their Social Security through their FICA taxes, and the program is viable until about 2040.  This means that our "nanny state" is fixing to rob American retirees of what they have already paid for.  And the hypocrisy of demanding "fiscal responsibility" after bailing out the gambling debts of the giant banks to the tune of trillons of dollars, no questions asked, is breathtaking. Moreover, as Paul Krugman and many other distinguished economists have pointed out, deficit cutting now would delay economic recovery for years leading to a double-dip "recession" (read depression) and many millions of Americans not only unemployed but not likely to find work ever again.  In fact we live in a zombie state seeking to devour the middle class to further enrich the already super rich.


Mark E. Smith said...

Babies murdered in abortion clinics?

Are you saying that instead of performing abortions, abortion clinics are forcing women to remain in the clinic for three to six months so that have no choice but to bring their fetuses to term and give birth to live infants, and then killing the babies?

Do you know the difference between a fetus and a baby?

Those who believe that unborn fetuses are persons (sort of like people who believe that corporations are persons) believe that abortion clinics are killing persons when they abort fetuses.

I have never before seen anyone claim that abortion clinics are waiting until children are born, so that they can be legitimately called babies, and then killing them.

The Supreme Court outlawed third-trimester abortions. In most cases abortion clinics don't perform abortions after the first trimester.

How far back do you carry it? Is a male who ejaculates outside of a female also killing babies?

The purpose of abortion clinics is to abort fetuses so that babies aren't born. If they could simply wait until the babies are born and then kill them, they wouldn't need to perform abortions.

ken said...

#30 Misplaced modifier. The sentence seems to suggest that if there was something the offspring of cloned animals could do to avoid getting into our food supply, they are not doing it. Anyway this can only mean your hamburgers will have less individuality --- a quality one never looks for.

In general the 50 facts are not funny. But you, Dave, a scientist of all people: they are not randomly selected. There might be an Optimistic 50. If we are economically fragile we are psychologically fragile, so beware the doom-casting. Your point is taken, however, and I like your method honestly. Clearly wealth is concentrating and poverty is proliferating. Increasing technology should make real wealth available to everyone. Why are we geniuses not smart enough to answer this problem? Is there some answer not in the template of existing political process?

Dave Ewoldt said...

There's a definite right-wing slant on these 50. One tipoff is calling Social Security an entitlement, when it's something working people pay into. Then there's the Libertarian xenophobia of anything related to the UN. Yeah, there's a whole lot of waste in government, but no mention in this 50 about the billions given to corporations to prop up elite hierarchies and protect "free" markets.

éminence grise said...

Thank you all for these thoughtful comments. I confess to not thinking enough about the slants in these 50 points. They are indeed in the right-wing direction. Particularly, terming abortions murder and Social Security an entitlement. But as for the Libertarian xenophobia about the UN, it looks like they could be right after all, since I put the Google map at the top after convincing myself it is authentic (if you go to the original, you can zoom in to see the vehicles better and zoom out to see exactly where they are). Of course, if the "UN" begins to patrol our cities, it will be troops in the service of the global corporations and not the foreign diplomats in the UN building in NYC. The vast majority of these 50 nasty facts were contrived and implemented by the right-wing deliberately to screw us, which is why I jumped too fast to put them up. Yes, it's doom casting, Ken, but if we can't stop these things, we will surely be doomed to an Orwellian world. And the first thing we need to stop is the insidious movement to chop Social Security, which would not only be theft of people's payroll contributions but would also retard economic recovery and thus increase the deficit.