Accepting a Failed America

…Embracing the new norms of a hijacked democracy

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The United States of America as we knew it is dead and it’s not coming back – no matter how many “Make America Great Again” baseball hats the gangster wannabee in The White House sells. It’s time for us to stop living in the past and start dealing with the world as it is again.

That means confronting the painful truths about our dysfunctional society and its hijacked democracy, neutered press, corrupt politicians, financial predators, faltering middle class, and captive electorate. It means admitting the ugliness of a failed America which is rotting from within and being parted out by its own toxic elites like a steer in a meatpacking plant.

It also means acknowledging that this is going to be The Chinese Century.

The time to prevent the world’s most populous nation from achieving global dominance was during the Bush and Clinton presidencies, when a treasonous Wall Street boosted profits by shipping U.S. factories to China. Lock, stock and barrel.

Companies like Apple and Nike weren’t losing money when they began pulling the plug on their U.S. factories. They were profitable, and they kicked their fellow Americans to the curb to be even more profitable.

The world’s most productive workers are now killing themselves at a record clip. Suicide, meth, alcohol and Oxy all seem like logical responses for those facing the prospect of a lifetime as invisible Americans in a society that stops counting most idled workers as “unemployed” after six months.

The U.S. had a good run at the top, which lasted from 1945 to 2007. Then we embraced the insanity of “greed is good” and “profits over people” and began putting Wall Street puppets in The White House and Congress. People like former presidential candidate John Kerry, who now sits on the board of Bank of America, and former vice president Dick Cheney, who was CEO of Halliburton.

Let’s run the short list for the damage the savage capitalists and their DC puppets have done:

-The Death of Hope

The American Dream is dead. Wall Street killed it, Washington, D.C. butchered the carcass, and Silicon Valley swept the bones into a soup pot.

Our poor and middle class  no longer assume their kids will have a better life, because that hasn’t been true since Jimmy Carter left the White House in 1980. Most of us also recognize that low wages and soaring tuition costs mean college is no longer a gateway to social mobility.

We just hope and pray our poor kids can find a job – any job – that still pays a living wage.

Look, there are many different types of capitalism, just as there are many different flavors of socialism and monarchy. On the far edge of what you don’t want is the savage capitalism of slavery, piracy and a global economy with neither labor protections nor a global government.

We have the latter.

This form of toxic globalism puts Wall Street in charge, undermines democracy by making the middle class irrelevant, and levels American and European workers with the poorest and most exploited people on Earth. It’s legacy is massive job destruction in the West and unheard of pollution and overwork in the East.

The fact that our own elected officials, billionaires, and CEOs went along with the Davos crowd on this totalitarian garbage simply means the West needs all new elected officials, billionaires and CEOs.

It’s one thing to help the needy. It’s another thing to do so by selling them your neighbor’s home at a fraction of its value and pocketing the difference. That’s not charity. That’s a scam.

So is calling decent working people “racists” for objecting to being homeless and jobless while predatory CEOs and crooked politicians grow fat; and suggesting the same electorate which put Barack Obama in The Oval Office at the height of The Great Recession has morphed into Klansmen.

People just want to work for a fair wage and be able to purchase basic medical care again without going broke.

-Artificial Healthcare Scarcities

Medical bills have been the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. for more than 25 years.

The new American Way is for the masses to work like dogs in their 20s and 30s, hand over all their savings to Wall Street the first time they fall ill from chronic overwork in their 40s, and then live in poverty during their 50s and 60s.

That’s neither a formula for a happy life nor a cohesive society.

Our corrupt federal lawmakers – who force us to cover their medical bills while we go without – receive huge donations from Big Pharma, The American Medical Association, and health insurers. Which is how Purdue Pharma was allowed to make billions the past 20 years while causing more than 200,000 opioid overdoses.

Its protectors in DC are the very same people who are creating artificial scarcities in medicine and telling us that nationalized medicine means healthcare rationing and less choice.

What choice?

How does anyone in need of emergency medical care make a “choice”  without pricing data – much less fight being gouged while they’re recovering afterward?

It’s absurd, and when you buy into this nonsense you become part of the problem.

Right now, medicine is the only field where customers find out how much goods and services cost after they receive them. It’s also the only one where billing personnel habitually conceal their names from the people they’re robbing blind, lest they be held accountable for exploiting those in need at their most vulnerable time.

-Global Warming

New Orleans never recovered from Hurricane Katrina. It’s not the same place. Never will be.

It’s been 15 years and New Orleans is still short a fifth of its pre-Katrina population. Nearby Chalmette is missing half.

That’s pretty fuggin far from OK.

The same is true of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and Houston, which was devastated by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and again by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Climate Change seems to be giving us these 500-year storms every two of three years now.

Trump says it doesn’t exist. He also thinks McDonald’s Happy Meals are good eating. Nuff said.

-Economic Apartheid

New York City never recovered from 9/11. America’s flagship city is a police state devoted to the pleasures of the super rich. Might as well be Dubai’s “Palm Island” now.

Used to be you’d walk through the city and one block would be rich and the next poor, and the kids living on them would attend school side by side. Now, it’s all economic apartheid all the time.

Manhattan is reserved almost entirely for the rich. Its outer boros are home to the city’s workers, who routinely endure daily commutes of four hours and are now derisively referred to as “bridge and tunnel crowd.”

Used to be, decent working families could drive into Manhattan for dinner or to see a show without forking over $19 for a bridge toll. Now, you need a loan to make the numbers work.

Used to be, normal people could drive their own cars to work in Manhattan if they were willing to deal with the traffic. Then financial sector executives decided their limos needed more room and pushed through a congestion pricing plan that clears Midtown at rush hour for those with expense accounts and trust funds.

Used to be, Times Square was a small business mecca filled with mom and pop newsstands, pizzerias, electronic stores, strip clubs and B-movie theaters. A place where tourists rubbed elbows with native New Yorkers, religious nuts harangued the passing throngs, and street peddlers hawked umbrellas and gold chains. 

It was dirty, it was grimy, and a little dangerous – but it was free and it was real. Now, we live in a world of comforting fictions which are 10 times worse than the painful truths they’re meant to obscure.

One of those painful truths is that Times Square has been transformed into a sterile corporate theme park with no heart or soul. It’s a place devoted to conspicuous consumption where tourists worship Disney, Fossil and Levis and nary a real New Yorker is found.

Why?

Because the cloud of financial locusts on Wall Street is intrinsically incapable of determining how much is too much. Much less recognizing that the question even needs to be considered.

We can expect more terror attacks like 9/11 because the world hates us under its leadership. Especially the Muslim world.

Trump has alienated our allies and given hope to our enemies. He and his rich pals have done Osama bin Laden’s work for him by taking a similar approach to decent working families and dividing the masses.

-Oligarchy

The U.S. is no longer a democracy, it’s a corporate oligarchy. Democracies have free elections with real choices. We have rigged elections between dueling Wall Street cheerleaders.

We were already headed that way before the Supreme Court’s horrendous Citizens United Ruling in 2010. This shameful piece of judicial treachery completed the journey by allowing corporations to make unlimited anonymous donations to political campaigns.

Citizens United opened the door to foreign interests looking to supplant the will of The American People with their own desires. It transformed our elections from contests between ideas and personalities into public auctions.

-Globalism

The Global Economy with no labor protections is not about the U.S. We’re yesterday’s news. China and its 1.6 billion consumers are today and tomorrow. There’s five of them for each of us.

Wall Street is using the wealth they’re sucking out of our faltering middle class to bankroll the cost of moving their operations to low-wage nations like China, India and Vietnam. They’re not just shipping our jobs over there, they’re shipping our national wealth too.

Sadly, the Global Economy levels us with the world’s poorest people without reducing our living expenses. That’s why you still pay $1,000 for a Chinese made iPhone which costs 10 cents on the dollar Apple once paid U.S. workers to make them.

The combination of Third World wages and First World consumer prices is  a win-win for big business and a disaster for American workers.

These prices won’t come down until we’re all used up. That means draining our savings, retirement accounts, and maxing out our credit cards. And it means standing idly by like helpless fools as corporate royals like Donnie Trump and Michael Bloomberg steal our pensions and Social Security.

Why?

Because the lords of the global manor abhor a saucy commoner. They prefer us hungry and malleable.

The current form of Globalism is a big wealth consolidation game which is probably going to end with the same bloody revolutions that rocked the planet after World War I.

Here’s how this game of musical chairs works:

The wealthy grow ever richer as they pay less for wages. The rest of us get poorer.

Meanwhile, financial predators like Apollo Global Management use their political influence to legally appropriate one pile of middle class wealth after another. One day it’s homes, the next day it’s insurance assets, then their for-profit colleges are locking working class kids into a lifetime of debt slavery

The growing inequality eventually undermines democracy and creates new hereditary royals. Like Chelsea Clinton, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Ivana Trump. People who can afford the $1,500 an hour attorneys it takes to be above the law.

What’s next?

A period of conspicuous consumption by the clueless and sheltered members of our new political and corporate aristocracy. Followed by revolution and regicide.

-Political Corruption

There are no political parties any more. Just two organized crime families who work for billionaires and sell political protection to corporate miscreants.

Corporate Dems and Republicans camouflage their bribes as excessive speaking fees, bogus charitable donations, insider trading tips, inflated country club memberships from the rich, and low-show jobs for their own kids. Those are the techniques they use to wash bribe money clean.

When Bill Clinton moved Dems to the Right in the 1990s, he created a situation in which the faltering middle class had no alternative to Wall Street’s “profits over people” madness. Which had already swept Liberal Republicans out of the GOP.

What would proud Liberal presidents George Washington and Abe Lincoln do with the millionaires who’ve turned the U.S. Congress into a House of Lords?

They’d be handing out blindfolds and cigarettes if they were alive today, and looking for a thick wall. The days of the masses shedding tears over dead politicians are over. Been over.

Look folks, the idea that Republicans and Corporate Dems are different groups of people is fiction. They send their kids to the same elite prep schools and colleges, live in the same elite communities, socialize at the same elite country clubs, and work for the same financial predators.

What does elite mean to them?

It means raising prices high enough to exclude decent working people. That’s the reason places like the Chevy Chase Country Club in DC cost $70,000 a year and homes in The Hamptons begin at $1 million. That’s why you’re never going to be rubbing elbows with political lobbyists at Mar-A-Lago as anything but a server.

We’re a divided nation now because the Predatory 1 Percent wants it that way.

Undeclared Civil War

Trump’s divisive rhetoric has succeeded in diverting the attention of angry workers away from the billionaires waging class warfare against them, and onto vulnerable minorities. One of the unintended consequences of this is an undeclared civil war among the masses.

Its daily mass shootings often dwarf the death toll in the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre.

-Job Destruction

Wall Street likes job destruction because labor costs are a drag on profits. That’s why we’ve averaged 15 million layoffs a year for the past decade. Automation and offshoring are going to eliminate most of the 41 million retail jobs and 4.4 million commercial driving positions over the next decade.

Why is that problematic?

There are only 131 million American left with full-time jobs in a nation of 328 million. That means we’ll have less than one full-time job for every 3.5 Americans by the time our population tops 350 million in 2030.

Not good.

Publicly traded companies need to grow their profits by at least 8% a year to qualify as “a growth company” with stock market investors. Otherwise they go hungry.

This difficult threshold has led to the demise of more than half the 7,200 publicly traded companies in the U.S. since 1990.

Companies sometimes behave badly to make their quarterly earnings targets, as investment banks did before the Great Recession, without realizing that the mathematical imperatives of an 8 percent expansion rate mean they’ll be doubling down on those sins for the rest of their lives.

If a restaurant chain cuts portion sizes and raises prices one year to make their numbers, they’re probably going to have to do so again the next. Because 8% is a sonofabitch of a growth rate.

This threshold creates a downward spiral that pressures companies to cut labor costs and benefits, too. Regardless of the economic climate.

This is the reason so many young companies, like The Sports Authority and Boston Market, declare bankruptcy now instead of maturing into stable job creation machines.

It’s also the reason hedge funds and private equity firms created industries like for-profit colleges and payday lending that turn the poor into debt slaves.

What changed?

Big Data and financial innovation transformed the way investors placed their bets on Wall Street after the birth of the Internet in 1994.

Used to be they would thumb though individual company reports and Blue Chip stock magazines looking for a likely winner, like a gambler at a race track. Now they have access to online analytical data which identifies the fastest growing stocks in real-time.

This data ended the days of buy-and-hold stocks by allowing investors to ignore companies that fail to grow at a breakneck speed. Like those spending money on the future.

-A Nation of Renters

We used to be a Nation of Homeowners. That’s was before the big banks convinced Bill Clinton to lower lending standards. This allowed them to issue million dollar mortgages to people with no income, no jobs and no assets. These infamous NINJA home loans helped trigger the 2006 Housing Bust.

Normally, banks don’t make bad loans. Because they’re not in business to lose money.

However, the government uses Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to repurchase mortgage loans so banks can make more. The commission they pay home loan originators is based on a percentage of the loan. Bigger mortgages generate bigger commissions for them.

Once you take away lending standards the process become a pathway to fraud driven by bad loans. Which is how we became a nation of renters paying an average of $1,400 a month with no equity.

A homeowner is an empowered citizen with a boatload of wealth at their fingertips. A renter is not.

Fraud continues to plague the housing market and reverse mortgages are making a comeback in this predatory climate. Even though they wind up putting a lot of gullible seniors out of their homes. Especially those on fixed incomes.

You know those Tom Selleck ads where the former male model endorses reverse mortgages and says it’s not his first rodeo?

If there’s a hell, the inspiration for Bojack Horseman will be going there straightaway. Homeboy will not be passing “Go” and will not be collecting his $200.

-Forever War and The House of Saud

Foreign wars don’t make us safer. They make The House of Saud safer.

We work for the Saudis now and have since the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. They‘re the ones who really destroyed Russian Communism and brought down The World Trade Center on 9/11. They’re also the ones now undermining Western democracy.

Why?

The true tenets of Liberalism are democracy, freedom, equality and regicide. Not rich hypocrisy.

Communism and Liberalism both embrace regicide – as in dead kings and queens.

The House of Saud are old school absolute royals who function as hereditary dictators. They’re not harmless national spokesmodels like The House of Windsor.

Democracy and Communism are both their sworn enemy, because of the regicide thing. The Saudis take that shit seriously.

Saudi influence goes beyond the petrodollars they make each year selling oil to the West. The House of Saud is also allowed to engage freely in insider trading in global commodity markets. This allows them to bet on the future oil prices they control, thereby multiplying their wealth many times.

They reinvest those trillions in the stock market and probably control more of the global economy now than anyone else.

-Our Not-So-Free Press

U.S. mainstream news outlets once served the masses and were funded by wealthy advertisers seeking that audience for their products. Today, the members of our neutered press write almost exclusively for advertisers.

Newspaper publishers have always been wealthy, but they were mostly local millionaires running hometown newspapers before. Now, they’re distant billionaires seeking to own the truth by controlling hundreds of news outlets. People like Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg, Leon Black, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett.

These rich jackwagons are motivated neither by public service nor an educated electorate. They got in the news business to scotch critical coverage of their own misconduct. Not to help you figure out what’s happening in the world.

One of the ways these toxic elites have neutered the free press is by forcing journalism lifers out of the business.

They’ve been replacing principled editors with malleable second-stringers, whose main qualification is their willingness to do anything for a management title. Except lead by example or take a principled stand for journalism ethics.

Meanwhile, veteran reporters have been getting replaced by kids fresh out of journalism school at the local level and by the children of the rich and famous at the national level.

These two personnel practices have a compounding impact on one another because cub reporters traditionally have been trained by veteran reporters and principled editors.

The only journalism lifers who seem to be getting a pass are those willing to work for the The Right Wing Lie Machine at places like Fox News, Breitbart News,  and The New York Post. Sadly, these opportunists also seem to have zero interest in scrutinizing the powerful and championing the helpless.

Newspapers have cut more than half of their newsroom staffers over the past decade, but the contracting new industry never runs out of cushy jobs for the sheltered children of the rich and famous.

MSNBC hired Meghan McCain, Jenna Hager Bush and Chelsea Clinton as capital correspondents in 2011 at a time when thousands of real journalists were being laid off. It paid them inflated salaries even though they lacked  the brains, talent, education, work ethic and experience to serve as newsroom interns in the old days. McCain has become the industry’s poster child for “I’m in over my head.”

Today, celebrity journalists like McCain and political hacks like ABC’s George Stephanopoulos account for a much larger portion of the Washington press corps than ever before.

What’s it all mean?

We’re being supplanted, and you’re being misled.

-Price Gouging and Industry Collusion

College tuition and healthcare insurance costs are completely out of control. They now average $34,000 and $14,000 a year, respectively, in a society with a median household income of just $63,000. That’s more than four times the $11,000 average income tax we pay DC each year.

We’re habitually told we should be grateful to live in a country where taxes are low, rather than a Democratic Socialist nation like Sweden where the average tax rate is 57%. However, healthcare and college are free in Sweden.

If the money we spend on them were taxes, they’d equate to an annual tax rate of 76% for one goddamn kid in college, all by them goddamn selves. Having two kids in college at the same time would be akin to being taxed 130%. And that doesn’t even count the income, property and sales taxes we pay or the government usage fees now being added to everything from tolls roads to park entry fees to cellphone bills.

Suddenly, Sweden’s not looking so bad, right?

You are being misled by these annual comparisons.

Our crooked government is deep in your pocketbook on a bunch of things that it doesn’t even consider taxes.

Case in point, government mandated auto insurance. You can’t drive legally without it – so how is it not a tax?

Same thing with court costs, and home insurance. You go to jail if you don’t pay your court costs and you can’t even secure a mortgage loan without homeowners insurance.

These are not choices.

In my book, that makes them taxes.

Why?

Because I’m a normal person and I define taxes as anything the government compels me to pay. Directly or indirectly.

The politicians and the banks that own them have a different definition, which allows to conceal how much they’re really taking from us.

When they say “read my lips, no new taxes” that doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to take more money from you. It just means they’ll be concealing those thefts in the guise of usage fees – like the $25 entry fee at Yellowstone National Park that levels billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who makes more than $192 a second, with truckers making $192 a day.

-Taxes Are Bullshit

The rich are always yakking about how they pay more in income taxes than workers. What they don’t tell you is that their corporate alter egos are taxed only on their profits, while the rest of us pay taxes on everything we make. They pay net, we pay gross.

How is that fair?

It’s not.

When Amazon gets away with paying zero tax, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gets over. Same with the Walton Family and their Wal-Mart corporate alter ego.

Imagine how much lower your tax bill would be if you only paid on what was left over after expenses?

It must be nice.

-Feminism is Being Appropriated

Feminism is supposed to be about gender equality, but a new breed of rich Fems is pushing to replace the rich white guys at the top the American caste system. They’ve been suckered into engaging in this group identity power grab just in time to divide the Progressives who want to eliminate that caste system.

Coincidence?

(snort)

Yeah, no. I think not.

-Liberalism is Being Appropriated

The Right Wing Lie Machine is busy pushing the triple fiction that rich hypocrites like Hillary Clinton are Liberals, all Liberals are Leftists, and all Liberals are some kind of pacifists.

This is totally untrue.

Liberals are a lot of things – but peaceful is not one of them. For most of the past thousand years, Liberals have been violent revolutionaries who have championed democracy by decapitating, shooting and hanging the world’s Kings and Queens to replace tyranny with democracy.

Liberals are also not confined to either of the two U.S. political machines. The U.S. has had both Liberal Dems like FDR and Liberal Republicans like Ike in The White House. Every Founding Father was a proud Liberal, from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson.

What makes an elected official a Liberal?

All it takes is a commitment to the principles of democracy, equality, freedom and regicide which our Liberal Republic was founded upon.

By that measure, neither the Clintons nor the Trumps are Liberal. Because both families behave as if rich people and their corporate alter egos are above the law.

Nothing could be more unAmerican.

-How U.S. Bankers Turned Into Loansharks

Used to be, almost anyone who charged more than 12% interest a year in this country was a specific type of criminal known as a “loanshark.” Like mobster Crazy Joey Gallo (below right).

Until the banking industry put them out of business by behaving like a loanshark.

Forty-eight states had usury laws until 1978, when the Supreme Court opened the door to state-sanctioned usury in a case called Marquette National Bank of Minneapolis vs. First of Omaha Service Corp.

Most capped interest rates at 11% and 12%. The only exceptions were Delaware and South Dakota, which had no usury laws.

This arrangement worked until the 1973 oil embargo, because inflation was usually around 3 percent. That left a big margin between lending costs and inflation.

However, the embargo caused inflation to surge. It peaked at 13.5 percent in 1979.

There was no way to lend profitably at 11 percent with that kind of inflation.

So, the banking industry turned to President Ronald Reagan for help. He  encouraged them to charge whatever interest rate existed in the state where they were headquartered until the Fed tamed inflation. Most banks promptly moved their HQs to Delaware and South Dakota and raised their credit card interest rates from 11 percent to 33 percent.

The banks put the loan sharks out of business, by becoming loansharks.  They appropriated a criminal industry and legalized it. Just as they’ve done with gambling in states as far from Las Vegas as Iowa and Maine.

When inflation subsided, the banking sector’s bloated interest rates stayed up. Reagan never acted to restore the power of state usury laws, even though he claimed to be a champion of state’s rights.

Why?

Because Reagan and those who followed him are crooks, and the banking sector buried them in political donations.

Usury is the biblical term for charging excessive interest rates. It’s considered a sin by all three major Abrahamic religions – Islam, Judaism and Christianity – and yet it continues to plague our nation today.

Reagan’s dubious legacy includes payday lending, rent-a-center and bail bond industries that habitually charge interest rates exceeding 900 percent.

American exceptionalism?

Sure, just not in a good way.

 

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