by George Burns
Below are some random items I have accumulated over the past several months. These are among the more disheartening ones. I think you will agree.
1. As recently as 24 January 2011, the National Council on Aging reported that a government analysis found that one in six elderly Americans were living at or below the federal poverty level. Given the state of the economy that number has most likely increased since.
2. A 17 September 2012 CNSNews.com article reports that the Social Security Administration recently released data showing that as of this month 8,786,049 American workers are collecting federal disability payments, a new record and an 18,108 increase over the August figures. The number of workers receiving disability payments has quadripled over the past 45 years relative to the actual number of workers.
3. In January 2012 Investers Business Daily reported that over the past four decades government direct payments to individuals has been on a gradual upward spiral. However, the last three years have seen a 32% increase totaling $600 billion. Given current projections another increase of $500 billion will occur by 2016. At that time direct government payments to individuals will consume two-thirds of all federal spending.
4. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers the nation's unemployment rate has been above 8.1% for the past 43 consecutive months. In contrast during the 60 years between 1948 and 2008 the monthly unemployment rate topped 8% only 39 times. Further, we learn from Donald Lambro that the BLS numbers show that over the past four years unemployment has increased in 26 states. In addition, BLS numbers reveal "that the number of working Americans shrank last month as payrolls fell in 21 states, the result of tens of millions of discouraged workers who have stopped looking for a job and are no longer counted."
5. For the period between January 2010 and January 2012 BLS statistics show that an average of only 58.5% of working age Americans were actually employed.
6. In 2008 the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy reported that in 1960 CEO pay was 50 times that of the average worker. By 2007 CEO pay grew to 350 times the pay for average workers. Recent news accounts confirm this disturbing situation remains firmly entrenched.
7. According to the US Department of Agriculture, as of June 2012, more than 46 million Americans are on food stamps. The numbers are steadily increasing.
8. The Tax Foundation reports that Americans "will spend an average of 29% of their income on federal, state and local taxes in 2012." They add that it will take average workers 107 days to earn the money needed to just pay those taxes.
9. Investers.com reports a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that between 2008 and 2012 the cost of employer provided health insurance coverage increased by 24 percent. They further report that the Council for Affordable Health Insurance "found more than 2,200 state benefit mandates, which add from 10% to 50% to the cost of coverage. The prestigeous New England Journal of Medicine affirms that the Affordable Care Act will not, as advertised, contain costs and offers alternatives. The Journal warns that Americans face a choice. "Payers could simply shift costs to individuals. As those costs become more and more unaffordable, people would severely restrict their consumption of health care and might forgo necessary care. Alternatively, governments could impose deep cuts in provider payments unrelated to value or the quality of care. Without an alternative innovative strategy, these options will become the default. They are not in the long-term interests of patients, employers, states, insurers, or providers."
10. Sentier Research, a economic consulting agency, found that between January 2009 and March 2012 the median household income had declined by $4,300. Current conditions suggest this trend will likely continue.
11. CNSNews.com reports that the Medicare Trustees recently announced that Medicare faces an unfunded liability of $38.6 trillion as calculated for a period of 75 years into the future. CNSNews adds that that amounts to a tax liability of "$328,404.43 for each of the 117,538,000 households the Census Bureau said there were in the United States in 2010." CNSNews notes that funding for these liabilities "would have to come from something other than payroll taxes, benefit taxes, and premium payments scheduled under current law." Further, CNSNews reveals that according to the Medicare Trustee's report "there is 'a significant likelihood' that the 'projected HI and SMI expenditures are substantially understated as a result of potentially impracticable elements of current law.'" Sources: