The government this week reported the U.S. poverty rate has risen to 15.1%, the highest since 1993, while 22% of children are living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, average median U.S. income fell 2.3% to $49,445, roughly 7% below the 1999 peak and a level not seen since 1996 on an inflation-adjusted basis. (See: As America's Middle Class Shrinks, P&G Adopts "Hourglass" Strategy)
If you think that's bad, just listen to what trend watcher Gerald Celente has to say in the accompanying video.
"Things are going to get much worse," Celente says. "Society is breaking down on every level: socially, economically, politically and it's not just the U.S. It's worldwide."
Celente believes the globe is following a similar path to what occurred after the 1929 crash: Severe economic contraction, followed by currency wars, trade wars and, ultimately, armed conflict.
Currency wars have already started he said, citing the recent decision by the Swiss National Bank to peg the Swiss franc to the euro. "Trade wars are next and then real wars, unfortunately," Celente predicts.
Unlike the 1930s and 1940s, The Trends Journal publisher believes major nations will avoid direct conflict "because they can annihilate each other."
The bad news is he expects more asymmetrical warfare, including the use of weapons of mass destruction such as bio-terrorism and "suitcase nukes."
Power to the People
Lest you believe Celente, who has been making similar forecasts for some time, is entirely negative, he does believe there's a solution: Direct democracy.
"If we can bank online we can vote online," he quips, suggesting we follow the Swiss (or Californian) model of letting citizens vote on "major" decisions, such as war, health-care policy, education and the like.
"We don't have a representative form of government," Celente continues. "This is not a democracy. The only people these cats represent are the people that give 'em a lot of dough."
As discussed in a prior segment, Celente considers himself a political agnostic and doesn't see much (or any) difference between the two major parties.
"It's a two-headed, one party system," he says. "We have a bunch of losers in Washington. How can any adult believe these guys after the summer spectacle of debt ceiling baloney?"