I’m Actually Deathly Afraid Of The Future For The United States

There is an unsettling feeling deep in my stomach and it’s been sitting there for quite a while. It’s strange and difficult to describe but I will try.

On paper and compared to billions of others around the world I was born into the best possible situation. I am a white male, American born, brown hair, blue eyes and born into middle class America. I went through the local school system and then on to a public university. Nothing about my nuclear family or extended family is anything extraordinary in terms of wealth or prestige yet we are well educated and hard working. We had enough and we’re comfortable but by no means from the lucky sperm club.

That’s no problem you say; America is land of opportunity. And as you already know from the history of the United States, each and every person has the freedom to pursue their dreams and the opportunity to change their fortune for themselves and future generations to come. It’s been that way since we defeated the King and established our free land called America.

Not anymore, it’s looking like.

We are on the brink of ultimate collapse as a country, a society and a world. Our national debt is at record levels and actually at an inconceivable height, numbers at which politicians throw around with no thought as to how bad they actually are. If we were a person, we would have already gone through bankruptcy court at least a few times.

Our health care system is in shambles, with stories of people going broke and bankrupt from a simple X-ray or MRI scan. Think about that for a second: middle class working citizens are being ruined financially due to basic routine medical visits at the same time someone is driving home from the appointment in their Bentley and profiting from them mightily.

That’s simply bullshit.

And the fact is the trend-line is not looking any better should scare you too. You think the financial collapse of 2008 was rough, from what I am learning it will not only get worse but we’ll probably not “come back to normal” but ultimately establish a new normal. They just keep printing dollars and putting them into circulation like a person keeps the faucet running in the tub while the drain is open, all the while wondering why the tub doesn’t ever get full. We’ll basically deflate any value our currency has, which will only be the beginning of our troubles.

Foreign countries holding much of our debt will at some point come calling. I wonder what we’ll say… I hope it’s not China and their billion plus citizens.

Education is becoming the new “housing boom” and the biggest lie in America. “Sure kid, go $100,000 in debt to learn nothing that applies to real skills being required from you in today’s working world and then spend the next 10 or 20 years trying to pay it back.” It is said most employers are not able to find and hire the right people with adequate skills to meet their job requirements. This, at a time when record number of people are applying for jobs tells me we’re misaligned and in desperate need of change.

Even scarier is the fact that college will become so expensive and so few will afford the ability go to a university we’ll just end up back full-circle to when the elite are formally educated and the rest of the population isn’t. I hope that doesn’t happen in my lifetime but it seems as if we are sliding down that road already.

Oh, and did you know there is $1Trillion in student loan debt in the United States?

Yes, a debt that will just keep growing because the interest on such a large of amount will never be paid down. The result is a crippling our future work force before they even enter into the world.

It’s truly absurd and I feel sorry for kids and families today who don’t know what to do but feel like the only thing to do is “go into more debt I guess!”

Of course, that is at the same time our entire education system is in denial to the fact that we are losing ground on the rest of the world. We lack the most in STEM areas, the very skills our most important innovations are requiring from employees.

I think what is bothering me the most is the wealth gap forming between the top 1% and the rest of us. It’s bothering me because the law of compound interest tells me it will never change – it will only get worse. The rich get richer because the more money you have, the more money you earn on the return from the money you already have in the bank. I recently posted a short video on the subject and it’s worth a view. To go further, it’s not that I am jealous or wish I had billions of dollars (although I am pretty creative and would have a fun time investing and giving back if I did) but I am worried such an uneven distribution of wealth will lead us down a road we will only regret once we hit the point of no return.

When the majority of a resource (wealth) is held tightly and by a specific few, corruption and manipulation is inevitable. Look no further than our neighbors to the south. Go spend a few months in the backcountry of Mexico and then tell me you want the rich to get richer in the U.S.. Due to the mighty dollar, anyone who wishes they had more will bend their moral and ethical standards to better their lot. And anyone who has more than enough money will use it to not only get what they want but to hold onto what they already have. This mean lying, cheating, stealing, feuding, protecting, enslaving. threatening and killing. The creeping and uneasy feeling I have is that we are too far down the road to turn it around.

At this point you may be thinking to yourself “boy Nick, bad day?”

No, not really.

It’s more like I keep reading pieces about the state of government, education, financial situation and the current state of our society. I am actually trying to take my head out of the sand and look at the reality of the situation. I am asking myself what it is that I can do to help, in whatever ways I can.

I hope you are now too.

Will it help if I create a company that positively affects the economy in some way? Do I just give up and go get a middle income job so I am secure in my future? My fear (for myself, my eventual kids and everyone else) is that middle class job will not be there anymore. What will $50,000 a year buy us in 10 years down the road?

My guess is not much.

So, I plow on. I challenge myself to figure out a solution for 1) myself and 2) the greater public. For myself, it means I need to create ongoing income and wealth independent of an employer or the government.

Why? Because I have a sneaking suspicion those things might not be around or dependable in the future, at the time when I will need them the most.

In a funny way I feel we have come back to the roots of entrepreneurialism – people going out on their own and creating something for themselves which financially and economically can withstand outside forces to keep them alive and protected. Something that pays you consistently or in a very large lump sum so you and your family are secure and safe.

Also, I feel the only way out of this mess will be creative entrepreneurship. It’s not ALL doom and gloom you know. We have the opportunity to create new ideas, new ways of life that will lead our society to new and better places. Only these new ideas must not depend on the government and traditional economic ways. They must be new ideas for the new world we now live in.

What ever we do we mustn’t put money back into the 1% hands or we’ll just end up expediting our own downfall.

My question: is that even possible?

It will be interesting to see what happens.

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Forget Governments; Here Is The One Thing Entrepreneurs Must Do To Save The World

Well folks, things are starting to look pretty bleak out there.  As an optimist I want to believe the future is brighter than the past, but I am having a hard time sleeping at night and imagining the days ahead won’t be filled with economic strife.

Shall we review some basic facts:

The U.S. debt ceiling has been raised by trillions – simply meaning we are sinking further down the quicksand without any help of getting out.

Do you realize one trillion dollars is a thousand BILLION dollars?  This is really getting out of hand.  It is pretty sad to realize our World Economic Powerhouse is actually just like the 24 year old post college grad who is taking out (and maxing) another credit card just to pay off the creditor calling them on the phone, while not even remembering when the specific credit line in question was taken out.

S&P has downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+, an unprecedented action initiating a period of economic uncertainty around the world with no clear ending in site.

What happens when the world loses total faith in the United States?

The tremors of volatility in the stock markets has recently increased in magnitude, with numerous daily slides of more the 4%, sending mini-shocks of fear and loathing through the psyche of any shareholder.

Go ahead, take a look at what happend in the years following the 1929 market crash…  sound familiar?

Here are some stats on the impending recession; it’s a great (but long) article but really places things in perspective.  Choice quote:

So, I guess I am going out on a limb, without any help from an inverted yield curve, and saying that we will be in recession within 12 months, if we are not already in one. This will be unlike any recession we have seen, as there is not much that can be done, other than to just get through it as best we can. Sit down and think about your own situation and prepare.

So after you sit down and think about your own situation, what should you do?  Well, if you are an entrepreneur I have a thought…

Understand How Your Business Adds Value To The World

Every entrepreneur need to take a tough look in the mirror and ask themselves what it really means to be in business.  The most basic tenets of business are profits, losses and margins.   As an owner, if you are not bringing in more money (adding value) than you are spending (extracting value), you will sink.   One would think the most important of those 3 is profits – and I do generally agree with that position – yet that may be precisely why we are now in this economic mess.  It turns out that profit above all else ends up creating more losses all around.  This, in my opinion, has led to our current toilet bowl effect where regardless of what happens we are circling further and further out of control.

A few questions worth considering when looking in the mirror:

Am I making a positive difference in the world?

Does my business add value to the world?  Or does it just extract value?

How can my business create an order of magnitude more value than the current solution?

Where is the government wasting money and how could I provide a better and cheaper solution?

Understanding how and where you add value to the world is just the first step; illustrating how you add value to the world is where you must focus your time and energy.  Having some sort of value quotient (if that is even possible) is where businesses worth can be easily quantified.  People need to know how you make the world a better place (socially, economically, environmentally) so they can start to make healthier world choices.

Specifically, I am referring to the question:  Is the world economically healthier because company “X” exists?  If there is not a resounding yes from the outside, I am afraid we will continue down this toilet.

Apple is now pretty much the most valuable corporation in the world, but do they really add value to the world?  Controversial statement, yes.  But of course a valid question, since people spend quite a bit of money on their consumer products.  How about the next company, Exon Mobile?  How much value are they adding to the world?  Arguably, they aren’t just extracting oil from the world…  And remember, these are the most VALUABLE companies in the world today.

The only way out from this mess is going to be through entrepreneurial fortitude.  Governments worldwide have only proven they are inept and cannot figure out how to spend less money.  It seems rather than actually ‘governing’ towards a solution, they are just ‘spending towards another problem’.   This does not work and we are now realizing how much we are in over our heads.   The world will be saved by entrepreneurial fortitude and finding a more efficient method to solving a societal problem.

The world is in desperate need right now of  smarter, more courageous, and innovative entrepreneurs who are not out to exploit current inequities but looking to reshape and save the world so their children will have something to actually live for.

@jnickhughes

Image courtesy of Flickr user Amagill.