“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
— George Santayana
It’s been mentioned (to the equivalent of preaching) that we had the benefit of a World War to help bring us out of the Depression, and maybe there’s a little truth to that. Back during World War II, weapons and munitions and transport and tanks and planes and bombs were built in US factories using US labor, and also military action killed off around 420,000 soldiers we would have had to find jobs for.
Maybe that’s why the neocons were so hot for getting us into wars — they knew that with the deregulations that started post-Carter we’d need some bolstering. But all of our milspec labor is performed by robots these days or farmed out overseas, which means that the money just went into the pockets of the 400-500 super-rich that much faster, giving those few more financial leverage to pay for more favorable legislation. Also, thank God, we don’t expend nearly the same amount of soldiers — but that means we have to employ them when they come back and find their jobs gone … to robots, and to cheap overseas labor.
But we know that’s not really the case. World Domination is good for business — as long as that business is building global monopolies for themselves and their buddies.
And here we are in the throes of a second Great Depression — only it’s an engineered one. We have economic growth, but the scales are tipped so that all the income flows into the wallets of people who don’t do any work. They just own things and use the weight of that idle money (and the magic of loaning many multiples of what they have out at interest) to torque the machine to dump larger and larger percentages into their pockets. But it’s a Great Depression just the same for the bottom 99%. There aren’t enough jobs and unemployment ranges from 9% to 25% depending on whether you use the figures the wealthy have lobbied to make and keep the official ones or the actual ones that measure how many people can’t feed the kids and pay the bills no matter how hard they work at however many jobs they can hold down simultaneously.
The official unemployment numbers leave out graduating students (high school and college) who have never had a job. It leaves out those who have collected all the unemployment payments due them. It leaves out those who have worked for years in situations where no unemployment insurance payments were collected on their behalf. And it leaves out those who bust ass at minimum wage, or not much better, maybe even for two or three jobs, and still don’t earn a living wage. And those are just averages, which, for the most part, means white people. If you’re a black male, for instance, the official rate is much closer to 20% than 9%, varying regionally by how racist the population remains.
That also leaves out the 1% of the US population currently in prisons and jails — I’m sorry, sold into slavery to the Industrial Prisoner Commodity Exchange. We imprison seven or eight times the rate as the European average, and, incredibly disproportionately, minorities. A cynic would argue that the system is weighted to imprison minorities at a greater rate than whites out of fear that those people, if free, would vote Democrat. And that cynic might be right. But the numbers are clear. According to one source, there are more African Americans in prisons, in jail, under probation and parole, that were enslaved in 1850. According to the same source, the USA imprisons a greater percentage of its black population than did South Africa at the height of apartheid.
The US has 5% of the world’s population yet imprisons more than 23% of the world’s prisoners. And since imprisoning prisoners is an out-sourced, for-profit industry, some private corporations, who, of course, are happy to hire their own lobbyists and make huge campaign contributions, earn better than $25,000 per head per year on all the prisoners they can get their hands on. Is it a coincidence that incarceration rates started their spike right around 1980, when the deregulators won?
Or maybe we should just imagine how much sooner things would have come to a head if 2,000,000 more Americans were on the streets, voting, demanding jobs at a living wage, and agitating for change.
This second Great Depression, or, as I like the call it, the Great Screwing, has been engineered by those who have learned huge amounts from the first one. The one thing it is not caused by is ignorance — at least not on the part of the manipulators. It is, however, facilitated by your own ignorance, and by fingers-in-the-ears la-la-la-la denial on the part of people who don’t want to know how close to the cliff’s edge they really are — or how quickly the burden of everyone else’s weight will drag everyone over, seeing as we’re all roped together.
The height of the US standard of living was in the post-Depression, post-WWII decades, and that ascendancy was a direct result of the amount of attention the majority of the US population paid to the ideals described in the following speech:
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.
— President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, State of the Union address, Jan 11, 1944, often referred to as his proposal for a Second Bill of Rights
Turned around to make it make sense to those of us who have no choice but to live in a more negative mindset, due to anger and loss of hope, these turn into the following:
The right not to get screwed out of our homes and health and fair wages and earned advancement and retirement savings and every opportunity for success by those who hold unfair monopolies on employment and land and utilities and food and education and critical services and cash itself — the wealth created by our own goddamn sweat and blood.
Roosevelt called that security, but that word has been taken from our vocabulary and treated to a painful, twisted death, thanks to mall security who will take away your camera and eject you if you take a picture of your daughter in the food court, and transportation security that will steal anything valuable from your luggage they think they can get away with and humiliate you at whim in front of your fellow passengers. No one needs any security tainted by that crap.
What we need is a government we can trust to work in our best interests when our backs are turned, because we work too damned hard to have to babysit our police and our legislators and our judiciary when monopolistic megacorps tell them they can keep a percentage of the money they pull out of our pockets to put into theirs and can make good on their promise to protect their purchased officials from the consequences, as well as themselves.
The impunity — a word that means can-get-away-with-it-ness — with which our financial masters act is in no way different from the lords of the drug cartels that rule Mexico. Anyone who gets in their way loses everything. Vanishes. And usually it’s nothing personal — it’s just what has to happen to keep things going, business as usual.
Too many people now have nothing left to lose. It’s time for the end of business as usual.
You know what? I’m not pro-abortion, and I don’t know anyone who is.
Abortion isn’t a recreational activity or a hobby. I don’t think there’s a single woman on earth who would ever say to a lover, “You know what? Knock me up. I haven’t had a good abortion in at least six months.”
I think abortion is a horrible procedure. So does everyone forced to resort to it. I’d love to make elective abortions — not done for the sake of preserving the health of the mother — a thing of the past. So would everyone.
I’d get rid of the bulk of abortions, if I could, with sex education from an early age and do away with the unconscionable prudery that keeps sex from being a valid topic of discussion between parents and teachers and children. I’d abolish rape — and date-rape too. I’d agitate for any publicly funded research to make contraception cheap and easy and 100% effective and available to anyone who isn’t ready to be a father or mother. (While I’m at it, I’d advocate busting ass to eradicate STDs the way we finally ditched polio and small pox.) Contraception should be the kind of thing you can do, for both genders, in those times when people are thinking clearly and not forced to try to think of it in the heat of the moment.
Oh, and I’d sure as hell get rid of that domestic abuse thing where sometimes women are beaten for getting pregnant.
I’d also love to pour some money into research to find ways to make embryos and first-trimester fetuses harvestable so they can be implanted in the wombs of people who can’t have their own babies — and I would include in that set MEN who are so all-fired convinced no single potential human life should be wasted, so they could take one for the team and carry a fetus to term themselves.
I’d also advocate for a bit more fairness and latitude for women who would have to leave work for a chunk of time to deal with all the peculiarities of giving birth and supporting and caring for a new infant. Now that every household has to have two earners busting hump full-time in order to support any children at all, that kind of help has to be available.
I’d also like to dump money into research to minimize all of those preventable chemical and environmental and genetic factors that would cause debilitating birth defects and decrease the quality of life of any potential child.
We could have been working on all of that stuff for the past sixty or seventy years if people had really been interested in eradicating the bulk of abortions, and frankly I find it horrifically hypocritical that the pro-life (except for, you know, the death penalty and wars and stuff) contingent hasn’t been voting to fund and support EVERY POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE to elective abortion possible.
Anyway, after all of that, the need for elective abortions would be fairly frickin’ minimal.
BUT EVEN SO I’d prefer the option for elective abortion remain easily available to anyone who wants it just in case any of the rest of the available alternatives can’t be stretched to fit the bill. Life is complex and you can’t count on some charitable person or organization to step in and help if you need it BECAUSE YOU BASTARDS JUST AREN’T CHARITABLE ENOUGH YET TO RULE OUT THIS PARTICULAR OPTION. You’ll help a family member, if you can, if you have the resources — if you don’t disown them or beat them or emotionally abuse them instead. Maybe you’ll even help a close friend or a church member. But you really haven’t shown that you’ll step in and help a complete stranger, someone from a different culture or race, and your screwed-up priorities on science and research and medicine and education has actively DISCOURAGED the development of viable alternatives.
If you really are as anti-abortion as you say you are, I heartily recommend you actively assist in the development of any and every alternative to abortion that could ever be possible. And then, after however long it takes for them to become available, you’ll see abortions dwindle down to nothing and fade away. Until then, you have no right to outlaw whatever procedure is necessary to prevent at least two lives from becoming a living hell.
Congratulations. You broke everything.
In a single generation, which has to be some kind of record, you’ve eradicated all progress for our nation since the Great Depression. The Land of Opportunity needs a new name now.
I could give you my own sob story — wiped out retirement funds from decades of labor, a marriage shattered and drained dry of love and hope from economic hardship and struggles to find employment, a house rescued from foreclosure twice by huge sacrifices and finally lost when it went down for the third time, a forced relocation thousands of miles away from aging and ailing family to find whatever scraps of work are available, no better off than I was when I left home at 17 to go to college, too old in my middle age to start the family I’ve always wanted and too close to my end years to save enough to retire unsupported — but there are a million stories that are worse. What’s the point of telling you these stories? You are incapable of sufficient empathy to feel anything for those whose fortunes you have strip-mined to add ludicrous layers of padding to your own filthy nests.
You don’t work. You don’t. You stockpile money and claim to make it work, not for you, but for the stockholders — but you are the stockholders. I, and everyone remotely like me — we’ve had to cash out of every last share to be able to eat and have a meager roof. And some of us don’t even have that. You make money for yourselves and yourselves alone. You bought up our shares when we sold them for food.
You don’t employ people — at least not in America. Thanks to the global communication networks we built for you from the prosperity of two generations — including the fruits of a once-great space program that put men on the moon in the technological equivalent of a Studebaker strapped to the top of an enormous missile — you can employ people anywhere in the world where they will be grateful for a mere handful of dollars per day. It’s small businesses — operations owned and run by those in the middle class who have made investments in themselves that pay off — that employ Americans. It’s those people that work, not you. You just sit there and own things. Compare yourselves to them for a moment.
Perhaps that’s where you got your own start: a high school diploma from the best public schools in the world, maybe even a degree or two for which you could pay the tuition with the proceeds of a ten-hour-a-week part-time minimum-wage job, and that got you a decent starting position in the middle ranks. But now the United States is 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science — and a crippling 25th for mathematics. And that’s just high school. It’s cheaper to buy a house than to pay for an advanced degree now. That path is also closed. You broke that too, sucking the money out of the government and the economy that would have paid to keep our schools effective and current.
Or maybe you started without any of that and invested fifteen or twenty years working your way up from the mail room or janitorial staff. But you don’t have mail rooms anymore — our public research and decades of hard work during the good times have eliminated the need. You have an army of temps and part-timers and no fifteen- or twenty-year paths to executive excellence. A five-year stint in a corporate job is exhibiting exceptional staying power. The path of working your way up from the ground floor is closed. You broke that as well.
Or maybe you just had it all handed to you by parents and grandparents who spent all of that sweat on behalf of your feather-bedded backsides.
Barely tapping into your hoarded wealth at all, you buy up small businesses for rights to the patents, to the business models, to the intellectual properties, to the clientele and consumers — and you jettison the human beings that built those tools for you. You perform mergers and efficiency sweeps and you outsource and you squeeze until you no longer have a workforce and are left with pieces of machinery for scraping what shreds of money are left into your festering stockpiles. From which you pay yourselves hugely. For your “hard work” on behalf of your “shareholders”.
And you’ve won.
You’ve won the game — by paying lobbyists and bribing congressmen with campaign funds to draft and pass legislation to make it illegal and impossible for you to lose. You did so by way of your hard-bought 14th Amendment rights protecting ex-slaves and corporations from being deprived of “life”, “liberty”, or property by dint of being “born” or “naturalized” in the United States. Perhaps later you can lobby for the right for your corporations to vote when they turn eighteen, or get driver’s licenses, or marry other corporations (of suitable gender where required by law), or register for the Selective Service, or be jailed or even executed for their crimes, or pay their fair share of taxes — if you ever found a use for any of those rights. But bribery is now protected Free Speech for our new corporate citizens — that have protected rights, but no balancing duties or responsibilities by which to earn those rights, and that serve no greater purpose than to shield their members from legal and financial liabilities.
And then you broke the game, too.
You know it. Look out your windows. Find binoculars, if you have to, to see what’s going on on the sidewalks below you. Look.
Listen to your own body right now. Feel that sick lump in the pit of your stomach that tells you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you have done something bad, something for which there is no repair and no forgiveness. Outside your window, however many stories down, your victims gather, those that have the strength, not belly-up and submissive but injured and angry and preparing to balance accounts. The game suddenly means nothing, for you or any of the other remaining players, because the real challenge now is going to be surviving the next couple of years with a hold on any assets at all. Possession is nine-tenths of the law, they say, and the bulk of what you possess now are numbers in a computer somewhere. Same as anyone else. Numbers, as abstracts, have no weight. No intrinsic value. You’ve been using those numbers — numbers that mean groceries and medicine and clothes and transportation and housing to other people — as just a score in your private game.
That lump in the pit of your stomach — that’s the start of guilt, and of fear, and, in health industry parlance, that lump is inoperable. You’ll deal with that nauseating lump in your own way, each of you, but it will follow the same path for all of you: denial, then anger, then bargaining, then that inevitable sickening downward slide….
You’ve broken the game for all of you — and somehow you’ll find that to be worse than breaking the hopes and dreams and lives of millions. And that’s why I hate you — and why I’ll cheer when you succumb to that growing, pustulent, inoperable lump.
If that seems to lack compassion, so be it. I believe it’s fair, all things considered — especially considering the singular lack of compassion you have shown in wrecking the American Dream upon which you yourselves have thrived — and for the numerous deaths you have caused from depression and suicide from loss of hope, from induced poverty and hunger, from medicine and health care procedures that could no longer be afforded, from increased violence that occurs naturally when privation is rampant, from cutbacks in safety and environmental standards or from complete disregard of those standards as people who actually work continued desperately to make their operations at least break even or even yield you profits. These deaths are murder, and unless you try to claim horrendous negligent ignorance, premeditated murder.
You will be held accountable.
Just now submitted to be emailed directly to Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, via http://www.occupytheboardroom.org . Go visit and find your own penpal!
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The natural state of being for any collection of primates is an impoverished heap with a few of the wealthy and powerful on top, glutting and rutting to satiety before anyone else gets any little thing they need, with their greasy buttocks and toesies cushioned from the harshness of reality by a thick, lush carpeting of peons.
You can achieve this state in any clump of humans by removing the concept of one simple set of laws that applies to every human equally.
You can tell where you are on the spectrum by how often you hear the cry “You can’t do that to me! Don’t you know who I am?” — and how often it works to allow the speaker access to a different set of rules, whether it’s by show of force, waving a holy book, or peeling bills off the top of a stack of cash.
Once things have slipped too far, there’s only one way to fix it. Unfortunately, the apes on top of the heap hardly ever relinquish power voluntarily.
In the natural state, we have the circumstances that led up to the Great Depression — and what’s going on right now. When things are better, we can go to the moon on a whim — in a Studebaker strapped to the top of a missile.
People lobbying for “smaller government” — at the behest of the apes on top — are buying a lottery ticket for a shot at being one of those apes. But those on top hate competition. The game is rigged, folks. You’ll never get there.
The words aren’t “Liberty for All”. It’s “Liberty and Justice for All”. The same laws — and the same consequences — for everyone.
I understand that the US’s public education system has failed millions of people, especially on the score of mathematics and the sciences. Tempers are high, exhaustion is rife, and people don’t think clearly under those circumstances — especially when they’re being told by some snot-nosed punk that everything they know, everything they’ve been brought up to believe, is wrong.
Apparently truth is passed down from generation to generation, and it stings when some kid tries to tell you that everything your father — and his father before him — said about sweat and hard work is wrong. It’s easier to believe kids are lazy. Weak. No ethics or backbone. Stupid. Irresponsible. It is easier to believe that, apparently, than it is to do a little math.
Math skills used to be passed along from generation to generation too, but apparently not anymore.
So I’ll tell you what. I’ll put this in terms any second-grader can understand, and if it looks like you’re falling behind, I’ll wait for you to catch up.
The whiny kids out there are saying there’s no jobs. You know it’s tough, but you have a job. You’ve taken pay cuts. Picked up something extra on the side, maybe, to help make ends meet until things are better. Maybe the wife has picked up more hours too, with her thing, and although it’s tough you’re hanging in there. Well bully for you. Keep sweating, keep your toes dug in. It’ll get worse before it gets better.
But here’s what the kids mean when they say there’s no jobs: For every single damn opening, and there are a few, there are six or seven applicants. Your advice: “Lower your sights, keep plugging away, and eventually you’ll get in somewhere. You’re white kids, young and energetic. Hide your tattoos, take out the weirder piercings, and eventually someone will let you in. Someone will give you a broom somewhere and you can work your way up. Like I did. Like my dad and grandfather did. Show some spine and some humility and be prepared to sweat your ass off and someone will pick you instead of those other six guys.”
Since math isn’t going to work, lets play musical chairs. You know the rules. Ten chairs, eleven people, when the music stops, everyone elbows their way to a seat and one chump gets left standing. He or she’s out. Remove a chair and play again.
We have to make the rules a little different for this round. To reflect the reality of the job market.
Let’s set up ten chairs and put 67 people in the room. That’s the current ratio of jobs to applicants, considering every job opening from CEO to grocery bagger. The music stops, and everybody makes a mad rush for — wait.
Wait. I left out a bit. An important bit.
Each chair is guarded by someone. Call the guard “employer”. In order to get a seat in the chaos, you have to convince the chair-guard you’ll be the cheapest and at least bare-minimum experienced ass to put in the chair of the dogpile you’re trying to get past.
Training takes a lot out of an employer. They’re all running lean anyway, or else there’d be more jobs. So if they’re hiring, they’re for damn sure shorthanded. They don’t want to waste training-time on someone they’ll just have to replace in a week because they can’t hit the floor running fast enough. But they also don’t want to give up the seat to someone who will be asking them for raises too soon or has too much brain for the work and will burn out under the drudgery. They don’t do charity work.
Chairity work? Anyway.
Replacing a bad fit is another couple weeks of someone else’s time (already shorthanded, remember?) to do the training, a metric fuckton of paperwork, and preparing for the onslaught of another dogpile of applicants if they have to fire and start over.
So ten of the most desperate, hardworking, connected, and craftiest with their resumes get a seat and 57 are left out in the cold.
And what do you say to the 57? “Keep trying, you slack bastards. Shoot lower. Grab a mop and a bucket and wait for someone who’ll pay you to mop!”
And sure enough, because sometimes people die, or retire, or sign up for the military and get shipped off to war, or get caught and go to jail, or take leave to have a baby, or quit to take care of sick and elderly family members, positions open up. But a couple of those people will join the 57, looking for another job. But also, a few more babies will graduate school and need a fucking job to stop freeloading on struggling parents. Some will quit high school because they’ve seen how useless degrees are — it will keep them good and cheap and better to compete for your job, should you have to get out of your chair for any reason.
But in the end, there will still be ten chairs open, and 67 — or maybe now 68 — asses looking to sit down when the music stops. And, if you haven’t noticed, that ring of chairs continues to filter out those with too much experience and too much education because the chair-guards can’t afford to pay an employee too much money when they can get the work done for cheaper. The brainier and more experienced are left standing and salaries go down.
When there aren’t enough jobs to go around, the slack is taken up in the amount of time it takes to find a job. When there’s enough work for everybody, applicants take as much time as they need to make a good choice. When it’s two people for every open chair it can take a month to get in somewhere, and that’s an average. Depending on luck, or connection, or how much or how little you’ll allow yourself to lie on your resume, it could be half or double. Right now we’re on the wrong side of nine or ten months average, so for some it can take a year or more. And God forbid you’re a bit slow, or have frequent absences to take care of kids or aging parents, or in some kind of minority people just don’t seem to trust much, or have a noticeable physical weakness, or have anything that looks like it could eventually turn into an expensive health problem. But way more important than that, never look like you might be smarter or better qualified than the person hiring you, or they’ll fear they’ll eventually lose their own seat to you some day. And anyone doing the hiring right now knows exactly how bad it is out there now.
Those 57 people who couldn’t get a seat? Those are the ones downtown with pickets. They brought their laptops and iPhones, so I guarantee you while they’re down there costing your city a few bucks in overtime for your underpaid cops, they’re still applying for jobs. Interviewing, even, since three quarters of that goes over the phone and email these days.
But quite literally, while they wait their nine or ten months for a shot at a chair to open up, they have absolutely nothing better to do with their time.
The very instant the first of the muzzles came off the banks, things went to hell and it suddenly became impossible to raise children without a two-earner household. That was the very minute things stopped working the way your grandfather knew they ought to. Women joined the workforce, mostly out of desperation, demanding lower salaries than men, and productivity went way up, especially in terms of what employers had to pay their workers. There was a ghost of a boom, but prices went up too to soak up their extra earning power, until any appearance of extra wealth — for twice as much sweat — went away.
The latest series of crises, starting with 2001 and going through the most recent nastiness of 2008 and after, is what turned your father into a liar. The unmuzzled banks make money in good weather, but they make it even twice as fast in bad weather. Now, even while those desperate people, like you, bust ass to keep productivity up for the last companies standing in the multinational corporate monopoly slugfest, the economy is actually growing, and the hugest are making money hand-over-fist, and so are the last remaining megabanks and superfunds. Sweat doesn’t earn you any more money — it earns it for your company, or your company’s investors. If you are lucky and well-liked, they’ll give you a cut of that that isn’t anywhere near the share you’ve earned, but it’s better than nothing, isn’t it?
The truth is it’s not better than nothing. It gives them more power to bully Washington into making your share even smaller, lobbying for higher taxes for you but not them, for less of a share of your healthcare or education for your children, for more ability to gamble with your retirement funds and less money to cover your future bouts of unemployment. For lower minimum wages. For abolishment of collective bargaining. But you have to eat, so you take it anyway. For now.
While the economy is currently growing, we’re in an artificial Great Depression established by the unbridled greed of those who are the only ones who could possibly profit by it. And they won’t care when the USA becomes a wasteland because their corporations are multinational. Towering stacks of cash are welcome on any nation on earth. The lights are already out in Cincinatti, in Detroit, in Pittsburgh. What will they care when Los Angeles and Chicago and New York go dark? Bermuda is awesome this time of year. Skiing in Switzerland is excellent! Who cares if the federal government that ties the states together collapses entirely? Euros and yuan work just as well as dollars to pay rent on the villa.
Their first twinge when all governing rights revert to the states will be when they remember Alabama is a nuclear power.
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The Gross Domestic Product of the United States of America was, at it’s peak in 2008, $14.119 Trillion. Here, see for yourself.
SIXTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS WAS GIVEN OUT IN SECRET BY THOSE WHO MANAGE THE FED TO BANKS THAT PAY THOSE MANAGERS BONUSES. (Source: http://sanders.senate.gov/)
Raise your hands if you have any idea how much $16,000,000,000,000.00 is.
Here’s a quote from the link, just in case you don’t have the time:
“For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed’s board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed’s emergency lending programs.
“In another disturbing finding, the GAO said that on Sept. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the New York Fed president, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric at the same time AIG and GE were given bailout funds.“
What nails my head to the wall is that this shows that the people in charge of the Fed don’t understand money at all. Money has no intrinsic value. It’s what money does that has value. It’s money in motion, like a moving electrical charge, that creates value.
Sixteen TRILLION dollars is around $43,000 for every man, woman, and child in the USA. If that money had been given to US, as it probably should have been, seeing as it’s our missing share of the GDP for the past THIRTY YEARS, the vast bulk of us would have used it to pay down bloated mortgages, pay off debts and student loans, invested in our own small businesses to employ people and provide missing necessary infrastructure — and all of those options end up with the money IN THE BANKS, and THEN they can pay themselves their goddamn bonuses. Even the people who’d have blown it on crap would have bought things, employing people at the factories. Sure there’d have been some inflation, but not too bad if we kept an eye on price gouging.
Instead they built up a thirty-year wad of charge and SHORTED IT STRAIGHT TO GROUND instead of running it through the machine that creates value for money. And we won’t get it back unless we burn down the banks.
You think things were bad before? Wait until you see what happens when we try to get that money back.
It’s pretty gooftacular that the Tea Party got up and going at all, launched by the Rentiers to help protect their vampiric cash machine — same Rentiers whose precious tax breaks let them siphon all the liquidity in the market into their already bulging wallets.
In case you hadn’t noticed, that liquidity is what usually pays salaries for people who actually contribute to the growth the Rentiers are currently reaping the benefits of. Now, instead of getting what you are due, you bust ass to do your job after a pay cut, also doing the job of the part-timer you’ve been asking for for years AND the job of that woman who got laid off when “we all had to make sacrifices” AND ALSO some of the duties of that old guy who got forced out before he could qualify for his pension.
You remember pensions, right? Near-mythical things now, made up of the part of your salary you’ve earned that they hold onto for you and invest it so it’ll continue to pay for a tiny house somewhere and the occasional tin of fucking tuna once you get to be too old to work. Turns out that was the easiest part to take away from you first, since you’d never even touched it and it was never actually real to you anyway.
Am I lost in a digression already? Am I really that old? Fuck me. I was talking about tea parties.
The first one was when a bunch of people got tired of “their betters” making all of the rules, including setting up taxes to siphon money out of the wallets of the citizenry without them have anything to say about it. They were just colonist peons, sproutlings plopped down on fresh soil to bear fruit and get mowed down for the benefit of the colonies’ financial investors — the [alleged] people whose parents and grandparents took the actual financial risk to build ships and hump them over the Atlantic and showed some small amount of concern when the colonists were freezing their asses off the first couple of wild winters. But the people making the rules during the times leading up to the first tea party did nothing but manage property — and treated the people under their care as property. Livestock. If you dig up their old letters, you read grumblings about keeping them fed and mucking out their shit and finding new and creative ways to milk them and, when they got fat, or uppity, slaughter them.
They wanted more money. The colonists they were taxing were starting to struggle under the burden. The governors tightened the screws. And the “livestock” snapped, dressing up as natives, busting their way on board the ships, looting the holds, and dumping overboard a shit-ton of cargo. Stuff they personally had a use for and held dear. Motherfucking tea.
I’m drinking some right now. Mmmm.
It got the point across. The colonists were in open rebellion over the fact that they had no control over their lives — no representation in their own damned government. We don’t put up with that around here.
The second tea party — that one makes me laugh. It was set up by lay-about property owners that fluff themselves up in the morning thinking that their input into affairs is critical to making things run. Because they’ve got the high-fucking-score.
Apparently with great wealth comes great responsibility. They have to spend four or five hours a week on the phone to protect it. Maybe ten if people start to wake up. They have to shop for new congressthings to buy, hire a think tank to study market (i.e., “your”) behavior and draft toy legislation, hire lobbyists to stuff snippets of tax code wrapped in sheaths of hundred-dollar bills and scented with lobster grease into the pockets of legislators they haven’t tamed yet.
And when their favorite livestock — that’s congress, now rife with liberals and progressives and actual conservatives, as opposed to neoconservative imperialists and dominionists and “trickle-down” economists — started acting uppity, they staged a fake tea party, dressed up as the new kind of natives, “Joe Six-Pack” and “Joe Plumber”. And since it was a joke — a joke wearing your face, goddammit — they bought a “news” network and publicized it like it was a real thing. And people who were tickled by the sound bites and the whole staged imagery and enthusiasm came out of the woodwork, playing dress-up like lost Twilight fans at a sci-fi/fantasy convention.
But Jesus, people, it started with David and Charles Koch dressed up as you guys. And like parakeets confused by a shiny new mirror in the cage you bought it. FOX NEWS is as real as All My Fucking Children and serves the same goddamn purpose. WAKE UP, YOU FUCKING BUDGIES.
I’m only laughing about it because I’ve made a point not to buy any more bullets after I ran out that last time down at the range.
However. Six or seven miles from where I sit right now, I see another tea party brewing up. A real one. A thousand or more of their representatives — the out-of-work ones, supplemented by a few people who are already making a sacrifice for us by taking time off of work and away from their families and friends — are permanently camped out downtown. They’re angry that they — we — no longer have any representation in the governing processes. Because someone has changed all the rules so that everything is for sale, bought for with bribes and lobbyists, and someone, who is not us, has all the goddamn money.
Friends and neighbors, we no longer have any representation in our own government. We are permanently outvoted by towering stacks of cash that was the cash that we ourselves earned, but somehow, by order of the twisted laws that has now made such rape and pillage part of the system, legally resides in the wallets of people who simply want to own it, because that’s what they do — and that’s what makes them feel more powerful than us.
To drive the point home, The Supreme Court of the United States of America has declared that a massive campaign donation BRIBE is Free Speech, and the corporate sock-puppets of the ultrawealthy vampires are ACTUALLY PEOPLE, with RIGHTS THAT NEED PROTECTING, and among the specific rights that need protecting is THE RIGHT TO BUY YOUR GOVERNMENT OUT FROM UNDER YOU.
So here we are again, unrepresented in our own government, overworked and still broke, or unable even to find jobs, watching shit spiral out of hand. We have a cold winter coming up, and no stores laid up, and the people who are already fat on our blood and sweat won’t even feel it.
Let’s make them feel it, too. If it’s going to be a cold winter for us, then it’s going to be a long, dark, cold winter for everyone.
I hear a lot of talk about 1% and 99% and drawing stupid lines between us and them based on income and class and, please, let me explain this to you, that artificial bigotry is their last line of defense. It works in their favor. The last places the real criminals have left to hide is among a crowd of their wealthy neighbors who, if attacked, will have no choice but to defend them when they are needlessly forced to defend themselves and their resources. One percent of the US population is 3.5 million people, some of whom are actually philanthropists and people with principles. I wouldn’t go after them anymore than I would go after all Muslims, or Jews, or people with red hair.
The people who need to be separated from their power and influence are not some nameless group. THEY ARE PEOPLE WITH NAMES. They are not “corporations”. They are not “the wealthy”. They are certainly not Warren Buffett or George Soros. They are David Koch and Charles Koch — and about five hundred people like them, people who are identifiable, and, ultimately, accessible.
We will identify them. We will find them. And accuse them. And we will undo all their damage and take our nation back.
Oh, Rupert Murdoch, with your hands up the puppet-holes of those talking heads you employ, speaking on behalf of your Koch-Brothers-and-Company buddies….
We don’t hate Capitalism, or Freedom, or Corporations, or Banks. We hate the hundred thousand bastards who have run up executive compensation to 300x, 400x, 500x the pay of their average workers — SOMETHING THAT IS UNPRECEDENTED ANYWHERE ELSE ON EARTH. Other countries, even the ones with horrible economies, top out around 50x.
THEN we hate how you stealing bastards spend that money — the money that should have been spent on jobs and proper compensation for the workers that earned that money for you — to buy senators and representatives and justices and committee members — or, if you want to pinch more pennies, you buy line-items of legislation, or tax loopholes for yourselves or your companies, or portals in the tax codes to shuffle trillions of dollars into hidden offshore accounts. Or you buy media companies and newspapers and attractive talking heads with well-greased puppet-holes.
It’s not Capitalism that provides you the Freedom to strip mine the American Wallet with your Corporations and Banks. It’s your greed, pure and simple. And the greed of the powermad thugs you’ve bought, now holding office, with milk from your cash-swollen teats running down their own chubby little chins.
What does it take to cut you bastards out of the system? Do we replace your puppets in Washington? Do we cripple your banks? Do we pop you out of the corporations you’re hiding in? Or do we come for you personally?
Don’t blame the system. Don’t say you’re just following the rules. You’ve used jackhammers of lucre to change the rules until it is YOUR system, not ours. And we will break it if we have to in order to get it back.
Let’s see what gives first.
You’re going to pretend you don’t know what they want? Okay. I’ll humor you.
They want jobs. There aren’t enough, because small businesses can’t afford to stay in business, or hire them, or pay for healthcare or retirement plans or the other typical parts of a compensation package that it takes to maintain a standard of living suitable for living in a first-world country. They’ve done everything they were supposed to do to earn a decent living and now they want the rewards that make the work worthwhile.
Let’s break that down.
Because of the cost of healthcare and credit, small businesses can’t compete with corporate giants. Corporate giants can outsource labor overseas at a fraction of the price. And are happy to do so.
Because of the greed of Wall Street, because of outright fraud from trusted financial institutions, because of the insane avarice of the five hundred family dynasties that have captured half the wealth from the sweat of an entire nation by decades and decades of constant niggling and lobbying and legislation from pet powermad senators and representatives and justices and key committee members for whom they’ve bought positions of influence…. Because of this, the system we should count on for justice, for providing equal footing among children no matter who their parents are, is warped beyond repair, draining every last penny from the pockets of those who are the most defenseless into the bulging wallets of those that have thousands of times more than they need. Because of this, there is, finally, just not enough money to go around, and the people — the flesh-and-blood human beings whose sweat is the lubrication for all of this mighty machinery — are starting to falter, and starve, and lose all hope for any reward worth their work.
Because of this, it’s finally starting to hit the children of those who were rewarded for integrity and hard work. And retirees. And veterans.
Parents can’t afford to pay for worthwhile education for their children.
People can’t afford medical care or nursing care for their elderly parents.
Students can’t afford to pay back the loans they have to take out to get even a basic degree.
Students with degrees — and advanced degrees, which we’ve been preaching for ages is the key to success and a reasonable standard of living — can’t get jobs that would allow them to have a place to live AND food AND pay back their loans, and now there is no way to defer those payments or even seek the crippling relief of bankruptcy. Because you THOUGHT you were voting for “personal fiscal responsibility”, and what you ACTUALLY voted for was for the vampire banks to be able to suck the last drop of life out of your children.
The 40-hour work week — not a luxury, but a target for a good balance of work life and private life and social life and mental and physical health — is a joke. Some people can’t find one job, while others work themselves to death with one and a half, or two, or three — and still can’t afford healthcare or daycare or sick days, vacation days, or dropping spare coins into a savings plan. Or whatever joke a retirement plan would be. Everybody has something on the side to try to fill in the gaps and it’s not paying off. It just makes people literally sicker.
Look up the figures. Worker productivity: all-time high. Worker salaries: decreasing. Unemployment: sky-high. And STILL there is actual growth, but none of the proceeds make it to any American who isn’t a company officer. And if your share does increase, it’s at the expense of someone below you on the food chain.
“Work hard and you can get ahead,” is what we’ve been telling our kids since we pulled out of The Great Depression. But working hard doesn’t get you ahead anymore. It’s treading water at best. And maybe the reason you don’t hear the voices of all of those people behind you who have already fallen down the slope is because you’re concentrating so hard on not losing your footing while you watch your own feet slide backwards.
Trust me, though. You’re next. All it takes is an expensive, lingering death in the family. An illness that your own private death panel of an insurance company won’t cover. A car wreck. A fire. An altercation at work. A spurious lawsuit. A branch office closing. A corporate merger that eliminates YOUR job. Even bad weather. These are inevitabilities. You have already taken a number. You’re just waiting for your number to be called.
If you’re wondering why the media hasn’t been covering it, first, think of who owns them. The Free Press has all been bought up by corporations that are either owned by banks or owe money to them. Second, you really don’t want to hear about poverty, sickness, and starvation. You’ve been telling the press that for years. The media only reports on blood, sports, and celebrities because you have zero interest in anyone else’s pain or troubles. You have enough troubles of your own. You don’t want to hear it. You’ve ignored it. And now it’s in your own goddamn house and you still ignore it.
“How do we get out of this mess?” you ask. “Does anyone have a plan other than whining and chanting slogans and making broke-ass cities pay their cops overtime?”
Well, yes. There is a plan. And it’s a simple one.
1) Reinstate all the restrictions on banking and securities that have been removed since The Great Depression, seeing as those restrictions were put in place to prevent another one. You can see what’s happened with them gone.
2) Figure out why healthcare has gotten so damn expensive — in the USA alone of all the countries in the world — and fix that. I guarantee you that the insurance companies and drug manufacturers are at the bottom of it, so I suggest you start looking there.
3) Revoke any idea of the “personhood” and “rights” of a corporation. They don’t need freedom of speech — all of their constituent members already have that. They don’t need ANY rights — until they can also be held as responsible and accountable as an actual human being, who can be imprisoned and stripped of possessions and, in some cases, executed for the levels of villainy we’ve been seeing.
4) If a corporation makes money from US labor, resides on US land, uses US agricultural resources, manufactures products or improves materials to be later used in production in the US, provides services to US residents using US infrastructures of road and pipes and wires and satellites, excretes wastes into US environmental resources of land or air and water, then it should pay taxes to the US people for the use, upkeep, and repair of the commonwealth and its valuable infrastructure. NO EXCEPTIONS. Practices allowing shuffling of assets overseas to prevent paying owed taxes should be banned as fraudulent.
5) The tax burden on individuals should be rebalanced. People need a certain amount of spare cash to live and eat and have a roof. Above that, the more you make, the more you should be taxed. Let’s be serious: If you can afford a car, you can afford to buy a bike for someone less fortunate so he can get to work and back. If you can afford a yacht, then you can afford to buy a couple of buses for your city municipal transit system so a hundred people can get to work and back. Everyone should pay their taxes. NO EXCEPTIONS.
6) The government is NOT FOR SALE. Huge campaign donations from individuals and corporations are nothing but bribes. EVERYONE KNOWS THIS, yet the Supreme Court says this kind of bribery is a right of free speech for corporations. MY ENTIRE ASS. Everyone knows this is a crock. Every two years, every four years, every six years, our elected officials go trick-or-treating for enough dribblings from the corporations and the wealthy — basically begging for their bribes — to buy television spots and talk shit about one another. They do this campaigning INSTEAD OF DOING THEIR JOBS. Every two years, every four years, every six years, people are elected based on the shininess of their ads and the cleverness of their sound bites and the number of newspapers they could get pictures of their faces in and, amazingly enough, nobody knows what anyone stands for. Except they’d really like you to buy a $1000 plate of spaghetti to help fund it all. Seriously, figure out where to draw the line and arrest anyone who crosses it. Dissolve any corporation that crosses it.
7) Who are we at war with again and why? Playing supercop policeman to the world is an expensive hobby. If our friends out there want us to do this, then they can help finance it. If we’re going to do it, we should do it for good reasons — not so we can sloppily slide tax revenues into the back pockets of our friends who make weapons and bunkers and tanks and jet fighters and armored transports or sell us oil on the cheap. As a non-economic aside, anyone who takes part in these things, as soldiers or US contractors or foreigners in US employ, should be held to our criminal codes, our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and our rules of civilized society no matter whose soil they’re standing on, or whether they’re in international waters — or any other lame excuse for weaseling out of being a human being and acting like animals.
8) Stop encouraging people to profit from someone else’s misery. This is just a guideline to measure things by. This means looking at the effects of rulings and legislation and corporate practices to make sure the people who are hit hardest aren’t the ones already at the bottom end of the economic spectrum, the sick, the young, the elderly, the disabled, cultural minorities, etc. Every time something slips past this test, our humanity takes another knife to the neck. People die from being poor, disadvantaged, depressed. Unchecked greed literally kills people.
So this is what those people out there chanting want. Maybe they’re not eloquent enough to say it — or maybe they’re just too angry to be coherent. Or maybe this stuff is too complex for a kid with nothing under his or her belt but a watered-down public high school education to even understand without a good run-up. But they have no hope of ever being paid what they’re worth, of being rewarded on scale with their work, of ever getting out from under the crushing debt you encouraged them to take on, and they’re unhappy.
And they’re doing all this for you, because you’re next.
Join them from your chair — or keep waiting until you have no choice but to join them on the street. Your choice.
If you think these words speak for you, use them. I don’t care about credit or attribution or any of that stuff. Just say what needs saying. Put it out there. Link, rephrase, cut-and-paste — whatever you need, whatever works. And good luck.
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This One Time, 54
This one time we were all on the stage pretending to be all musical and stuff, because that’s how we get paid. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of us — pretty sure — but you’re about to hear some things that might contradict a few of our public statements here and there, and our PR […]
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