Today I received $1,526 in unemployment money from the State of Montana.
I received this money 35 days after I filed for it.
That comes out to $43.60 per day, or about $610 every two weeks.
So I’m on the low-end of the unemployment spectrum. Some workers are getting state unemployment plus the extra $600 the feds throw on and they’re getting that every week!
No wonder many small business owners can’t get their old workers back - there’s no incentive to work anymore!
Capitalists have become socialists, at their government’s behest. Well...not all. Here in Montana, one of the state’s leading socialists of the past decade has become one of the highest paid individuals in the state.
Crazy times, indeed.
Anyways, during the 35 days that I was forced out of work and couldn’t provide for my family, I was lucky.
I had savings to tide me over during that time. What about all the laid-off service industry workers like me that didn’t have savings?
They’ll turn to credit cards - their only option.
I’m sure many will first try family and friends, but most will probably have to fall back on the good ol’, reliable American standby - debt.
Yes, I suspect we’ll see massive loads of consumer debt come about because of this crisis.
Credit cards just scratch the surface of our massive debt nightmare.
A report from three years ago told us that 107 million Americans had car loans, another form of debt.
Amazingly, Americans take out $51 billion worth of new auto loans each month. I think most of that consumer spending is now finished, and most of our auto dealerships in this country will go out of business if they don’t merge.
First Americans will stop paying their student loans, then credit cards, and then they’ll stop paying on their cars. Mortgages will be the last of the debt-dominoes to fall.
Housing...what a mess!
We had a massive bubble before this crisis, and it’s popping right now.
At the end of the year, we had nearly $16 trillion in mortgage debt in this country. The ‘good news’ is that only $3 trillion of this is commercial. We know that small business owners will stop paying their business mortgage long before they stop paying their home mortgage.
This will cushion the fall, giving us several months prep-time (flattening the curve) before the real mortgage crash comes.
And come it will. It’s starting now.
Housing sales in Missoula are down 6% from this time last year, and new housing starts are down 7%.
Nationally, numbers are down by 8%.
I think these numbers will fall slightly each month leading up to the election, at which point they’ll drop like a stone in a swimming pool.
Experts figure they’ll fall by 40%.
Housing prices fell by 19.7% nationally during the 2008 recession, and I think we’ll look back on those numbers with envy.
Nationally, prices are already down by 10% from last year.
Healthy real estate markets should have three to six months worth of homes available on the market. In Missoula, there’s just a couple of week’s worth of homes.
Real estate professionals here already admit that we’ll likely see more homes become available due to foreclosure, though they say this is a “worst-case scenario.”
I think these ‘professionals’ will continue to put a cheery face on this crisis for as long as they can. Cheerleaders like the Missoulian will help them, eager for their advertising dollars.
Local economists already say there’s an “almost 100%” chance for a third quarter recession.
Sadly, local media’s pursuit of the holy dollar will cause struggling families to both buy and sell homes when they shouldn’t, all because of the propaganda.
This is a good example of why the ‘we’re all in this together’ argument is complete bullshit - the strong are already eating the weak. The weak just don’t see it...yet.
I wonder what’ll happen when they do.
On top of this coming mess, we know that 189 million Americans have a credit card and that 59% of them were carrying debt on those cards before this crisis started. That’s 110 million Americans.
And that’s just one source of debt, and a rather small one...considering it can be wiped-out via bankruptcy and even by talking to lenders and offering pennies on the dollar.
Sadly, another 45 million Americans have student loan debt and this is never forgiven.
Amazingly, 70% of students aged 20 to 39 that attended some college at some point have $100,000 to $500,000 in debt.
I suspect many of these people would have eventually killed themselves to get rid of this debt. 9% of them already were before our current pandemic crisis.
What will our suicide rate be a year from now?
It’s already a good bet that millions of young Americans simply won’t go back to college. This was a good idea years ago, as the price is too high to justify the expenditure...especially when you often can’t even get a decent job with benefits when you graduate.
Montana has 13 different colleges and 45,000 students used to go to them.
We won’t see that many students for years to come, probably a decade. Most of the professors that teach at these schools are old, probably with underlying health conditions.
They don’t want to be in the classroom. And students don’t want to pay for remote learning.
Our university system is facing bankruptcy.
We never should have created that many schools in the first place, but the sweetheart deal that Paris Gibson offered the state over a century ago was snubbed.
I hope the legislature starts to think about consolidating some of our campuses. Even the main schools are going to face monumental challenges, and their communities are going to lose tens of millions of dollars as a result.
Last fall, UM had about 9,900 students, which was already a 1.2% drop from the year before. The school has lost about 25% of its students since the mid-2010s rape crisis.
Next fall, I suspect we’ll see around 4,000 students attend.
Another glaring problem is that Montana has 430 different school districts and it costs $1.65 billion a year to fund them.
I don’t know how the state can continue to fund all these school districts. We’re going to have to consolidate many.
County consolidation is going to happen as well. Way back in the early-80s we knew that it cost $745 per capita to administer a county with less than 2,000 people, compared to the $293 it cost if a county had 100,000 people.
Montana can’t afford 56 counties anymore. Most can’t see it now, but some will get an inkling of it soon. By the time the next legislature meets, it’ll be obvious and the counties will be clamoring for help.
The good news is that we’ll see lots of smart people with good ideas step up to the plate to solve these problems.
Problems with credit cards and car loans; student debt and housing bills. I think we might actually find permanent solutions that don’t just benefit the moneyed-class.
And we'll start bringing our jobs back.
It’s becoming quite clear that we don’t need huge factories in China manned by thousands of poverty-level workers.
We just need 3D printers.
Imagine an old retail location like Shopko reopening as a manufacturing plant that makes products that Americans need and want, not with fancy machinery that costs millions, but with 3D printers that costs thousands?
Imagine all of the goods we buy, all of the food we eat...not made thousands of miles and perhaps an ocean or border away, but within a day's drive of our homes and produced by someone that knows our community, knows our values?
This is the new world we can create for ourselves.
We’re standing on an amazing precipice of history, with endless opportunities to change our world for generations to come.
Let’s change it for the better by ditching the old ways of doing things...ways that hurt us more than helped...while embracing a new approach, one that unshackles us from the broken systems of yesterday.