What Do They Want, part 2 (in the doomed-to-repeat-it category)

...condemned to repeat it.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
— George Santayana
After the first Great Depression caused by the greed and ignorance (and inexplicable feeling of entitlement to prosper at the expense of the defenseless) of the horrendously wealthy, we ended up with some cleaning up to do.

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.


October 31, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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