America faces more than a dozen deadlines, all caused by billionaires and wealth transfer

I’ve had an article in draft for some time — “The 16 Deadlines Facing America” — that details each deadline, describes the dangers, and states why each faces an end-point rather than just a periodic fluctuation. (Example of periodic fluctuation: The price of GM stock goes up and down — sometimes the number is good, sometimes bad — but GM stock continues to be traded on the market. Example of an end-point: The market price of tradable tulip bulbs goes up to impossible heights, then crashes so badly that the interest in trading them completely disappears. The market for tradable tulip bulbs is dead forever.)

I’ve identified 16 of these game-over situations facing America today, situations from which there is the possibility of no recovery — not the certainty, but the possibility. As I was working on that article though, looking especially what it would take to reverse each trend, I realized it’s really only one story writ 16 times on 16 separate canvasses.

That story? The song of the predator class, the rich and the rest — “All your money are belong to us.

It’s the story, in other words, of worldwide billionaires and the one thing they’re doing — monomaniacly making money while telling each other tales of their Randian goodness.

America’s 16 deadlines

As I said, I see 16 individual, though interlinked, processes in the country today that have potential game-over, irreversible end-points. You may think there are more, or you may think some could be merged, but I think that’s tweakage, “in the noise,” not a useful distinction. For our purposes, this list is good enough.

Here they are, numbered in no particular order, but grouped:

1. Accelerating transfer of wealth to the .001% (“the billionaires”)
2. Accelerating transfer of manufacturing out of the country
3. Marginalization or destruction of effective labor unions
4. Destruction of the middle class (i.e., the consumer class)

5. Capture of government by billionaires of both parties
6. Capture of the Republican Party by anti-Constitutional billionaires via Tea Party-financed candidates

7. Constitutional changes, including changes in practice to rule of law and an ever-widening circle of elites with immunity from prosecution
8. Creation via trade agreements of a transnational state that enshrines corporate sovereignty

9. Permanent war and a permanently expanding military
10. Permanently expanding national security state, including militarization of police, widespread spying and punishment for political crimes
11. The ticking time bomb of increasing numbers of returning untreated war-damaged battle-trained veterans

12. Oil dependence without recognition of oil as a soon-to-be-depleted energy source
13. Deterioration of the environment, largely due to oil and carbon dependence, among other causes
14. Destruction of the integrity of our food supply

15. Destruction of public education

16. Climate catastrophe and the collapse of human populations and level of civilization

Every one of these has the potential to run to a destructive and permanent end-point.

I don’t want to discuss them at length here — that  article is still in draft. I just want to present the list for your consideration. A few will be discussed below, but only for illustration. My bottom line, and the surprise discovery, is that every single one is driven by one common cause — internationalist billionaires.

What is a corporation?

Before we go on though, a brief reminder about the nature of corporations. As I wrote earlier:

Corporations are not people, and they don’t have ideas or will. They are empty vessels. … Modern corporations serve one function only — to make the CEO class obscenely rich, even at the expense (that’s a Bain link) of the corporation itself (yes you, Carly Fiorina). …

Don’t think of a corporation as acting. Think of its CEO as acting through the corporation. Thanks to the Reagan Era tax system — and the tax system of every era since, Democratic and Republican — it’s more profitable for a CEO to loot his or her corp than to plow the corporation’s money back into it, as used to occur.

Again, modern corporations serve one function only — to make the CEO class obscenely rich. Everything a corporation does, its billionaire owners, acting through millionaire top-managers, cause it to do. Every time you see a corporation, you should see its owners, the billionaires running and feeding from it.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the deadlines listed above, specifically food and education.

What are our deadlines with respect to food?

money farm

Dollars and farms via Shutterstock

As an example of the process of deterioration to an end-point, consider “Destruction of the integrity of our food supply” — number 14 on my list. This process has been going on since the 1950s, if not earlier, and has entered a new phase with the increasing use by Monsanto and others of genetically modified organic organisms (GMOs; so-called “frankenfoods”) as a cheap and patentable (thus wholly ownable and “dollarable”) replacement for traditional foods.

This process has been mainly one-directional, has recently accelerated, and has an end — at some point, people in the least wealthy 80% of this country won’t be able to get food that sustains their health. We already face an obesity epidemic, one cause of which is likely the change-over from natural starches and sugars to cheaper “modified corn starch” in its various forms (cheaper means more profit). Unless this reverses, eventually people will start dying at a younger age than their parents. If you don’t believe me, watch what walks around at the airport sometime; these people are suffering, yet many are making decent money.

The rich and the rest — only the rich and the smart well-off will eat well. Without disposable income, the rest will eat crap.

And that’s just two of our food-related problems, obesity and the replacement of real food with manufactured “food.” An associated food problem is the spread of GMOs-as-food around the world. If this isn’t stopped, eventually the GMO food — grains, for example — will drive traditional foods out of most fields forever. It doesn’t take much thought to come up with other, similar problems with the food supply, all accelerating in the wrong direction. A longer food article could easily list them.

Why is the destructive process not being reversed? In the case of the two problems mentioned above, there’s just one cause. The cash-flow of Monsanto (a corporation controlled by a small group of billionaires, remember) is backed-stopped by the U.S. government and both political parties. The cash-flow of all Big Agriculture companies — Archer Daniels Midland, for example, which produces much of our corn — is backed-stopped by the U.S. government and both political parties. The U.S. government and both political parties are owned and their operations directed by billionaires.

The government would have to interrupt the flow of money into the hands of Monsanto and Big Ag billionaires — and their millionaire associates and friends — in order to begin to reverse this process.

Said more simply, unless billionaire profits are interrupted, this process will accelerate toward the end-point — degradation of food to worse-than-worthless “food” for a vast majority of the population, and its attendant longevity consequences.

Can the process be stopped? Of course. But billionaires are the sticking point.

What about public education?

Rahm Emanuel vs. Tom DaschleNumber 15 on the list is “Destruction of public education.” Does that really have an end-point? If so, what does it look like? Extrapolate the charter-school / “for-profit school funded with public money” process — which is, again, both uni-directional and accelerating — to its end-point and you get a two-tiered school system with a sloppy middle. One tier is an aging, decrepit, under-funded, useless-for-education factory-school system for the middle and lower classes (most of the country). The other tier has bright shiny (private) charter schools for the billionaires and their millionaire administrators and friends.

A good example of this bifurcation is the charter school that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his children to, in which music and the arts are taught, which he supports at the same time he’s destroying public school funding for the poor and middle class of his own city.

The rich and the rest; one system for the wealthy and another for the rest of us. The wealthy private-school owners receive funding from the government — via vouchers and other payments — and book for themselves the profits of the successful schools they create. Because of the prices charged for these schools, the vouchers that parents receive won’t be enough, so better incomes are needed to afford the better schools.

At the same time, the lower income parents (most of the rest of the country) will either use their vouchers for the fly-by-night or less-good charter schools or they’ll have to send their children to increasingly useless public schools. Public schools will not disappear, except as a means of education. Only the poor will eventually use them, and they will become more like jails and youth rehab camps than actual schools. They will operate on a fraction of the money they have now. And the teaching profession, stripped of union rights and incomes, will be gutted of anyone but the desperate.

In between those two permanent systems, in what I called the “sloppy middle,” will be a changing list of middling private charter schools, some of which will be decent, many of which will be run as profit opportunities and abandoned, for that portion of the country with vouchers who live in okay neighborhoods and have just enough extra income to pay a little extra for education.

But government money dedicated to public education, if it continues to shrink, will create the two-tiered system described above.

What will anyone who wants to reverse this process be forced to tackle? The billionaire-financed and millionaire-marketed (looking at you, mass media) draining of money from government (because “All your money are belong to us”) — combined with an expanding push to convert public education for the many into private revenue streams for the few. This means that privatization must be reversed (it’s now expanding) AND that government must be refunded, not looted.

In other words, unless billionaire profits are interrupted, this process will accelerate toward the end-point — public “schools” that aren’t schools for the masses; private schools that are schools for the few; and a floating, changing middle selection of variable quality for the rest.

Can the process be stopped? Of course. But billionaires are the sticking point.

It’s the same throughout the list

Now look at the list again. All of the items have solutions blocked by billionaires in their mad rush for more. Climate catastrophe is an obvious one, and I discussed it here. The billionaires are the roadblock.

But how about veterans, the increasing flow of war-damaged PTSD individuals — all with armament training, all with standard military desensitization to killing (that’s what basic military training is all about, folks, making people willing to kill) — who wander our cities and towns untreated and unhelped? We have to refund the VA and cut back our warfare to reverse this trend. Billionaires are blocking both parts of that solution.

Can you find a problem on that list of destructive processes that isn’t blocked by billionaires? I can’t.

Bottom line

Amazing world we live in, isn’t it? At least we know one thing; if we don’t solve our “billionaire problem,” we won’t solve anything.

But there’s another important aspect to this line of reasoning. Let’s mentally allow all of the processes to run to completion (a horrible idea, but this is a thought experiment, nothing more). Not all of the deadlines are timed to the same rhythm, the same clock. Some will hit sooner than others.

Now scan that list again. Which one do you think will hit first, making make all the others moot? Can you spot it? Thought so. That’s why I’ve been working on it so much, and why I’ll return to it full-time very shortly. If we break the power of the billionaires there, or anywhere, we break it everywhere.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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48 Responses to “America faces more than a dozen deadlines, all caused by billionaires and wealth transfer”

  1. John Kennard says:

    I suspect you’re undervaluing how billionaire calls to billionaire around the world–or, at least, their money-handlers do . . . :
    “One shock of recognition runs the whole circle round”, as Hunter S. Thompson said.
    The plutocracy is global.

  2. John Kennard says:

    :”Unfortunately, the Democratic rank-and-file has not chosen to take effective action to reclaim their party.”


    As for “chicken littles who fly around saying the system is broken and can’t be fixed . . . from Tea party neanderthals to reasonable-sounding folks with references like yourself”,


  3. RaiseMoreHell says:

    Under number 7, there should be specific mention of the attack on voting rights through direct disenfranchisement, structural shenanigans such as gerrymandering, and election integrity issues.

  4. RaiseMoreHell says:

    You get very little credit for noticing that the Democratic Party has been seized by corporatists, after all, number 5 on the above list points it out, Tony Coelho bragged about making it happen, and the majority of the party’s rank-and-file feels the same way. There is a vast difference between elected officials with Ds after their name; the three levels of official party leadership, local, state and national; and the party rank -and-file. The majority of Democrats, still hold values epitomized by the New Deal. Read the platforms they pass at every level. When the House GOP, the Senate Democrats, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus plans for dealing with the sequester were blind-polled (by Business Insider magazine), majorities of every category, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, chose the unlabeled progressive plan. Unfortunately, the Democratic rank-and-file has not chosen to take effective action to reclaim their party. There are numerous reasons for this, notable among them:
    • the sewer that the GOP’s goons have made of the public political process;
    • the inability of factions who all agree that communal interest must play a greater part in public decision making to work in accord because they disagree about the specifics;
    • large numbers of chicken littles who fly around saying the system is broken and can’t be fixed. These chicken littles run the gamut from Tea party neanderthals to reasonable-sounding folks with references like yourself. The result is the same, destroy the public’s belief that it can govern itself and faith in a system of government that, though wildly imperfect, has much to recommend it and was achieving a slow bend towards justice up until 40 years ago.

    We face additional problems to what FDR was up against. Step one is to reclaim the Democratic party for the values embodied in its platforms, peace, economic justice, shared sacrifice and rewards, equality under the law and opportunity for all.

  5. One problem, your focus on the GOP: Since the DLC/Wall Street Democrats took over the Democratic Party in the late ’80s, there has been no real difference between the parties:

    It’s the two-plutocratic-party-system like we’ve never seen it before:

    The first great Wall Street Democrat was Bill Clinton, who in his first term in Arkansas was a liberal-populist, and in his second completely remodeled for success (Hillary even went on the board of directors of Walmart), and as Presdient Bill Clinton went on to blandly oversee the construction of the bank-trusts, the “too-big-to-fail” banks still with us five years after 2008; to sign Glass-Steagall out of law; and to sign the CFMA into law, the legal infrastructure for the Oil Bubble of 2006-8, which deliberately wrecked the US and world economies, for profit, under Bush II (and the UK’s Tony Blair):

    And Barack Obama is another of the same ilk, starting as flack for speculators in public housing, but who since becoming President has not sent a single Wall Street mobster to prison, who appointed CFMA architect Larry Summers as his first chief economic adviser, and under whom it’s not the crime or even the coverup (Nixon), it’s the whistleblower.

    There’s no excuse for anyone pretending the modern Democratic Party is any different from the GOP.


  6. EdM01 says:

    And a real estate agent to launch the flip.

  7. EdM01 says:

    Indeed. And if the climate collapses, they’ll demend that their bodies be put in pyramids so they can take their wealth with them.

  8. EdM01 says:

    You are lucky! All we have in our area are the standard supermarkets, the big-box supercenters, and the whole paycheck organic foodsellers. Not an artisan store in the whole metro area.

  9. Tax these assholes (and the corporations they own) at 80% – “problems” solved.

  10. political.economist says:

    I believe Emanuel’s kids go to a private school, not a charter school.

  11. acadiana says:

    Aren’t many of these problems solved by folks not having children? Environmental issues, food supply shortages, energy issues, etc… all disappear in a few generations if folks stop procreating. Likewise, how many folks “procreate themselves into poverty” by having children they can’t afford to support? I think it’s a pretty big number. So many of our problems would be dramatically reduced – at a minimum – if selfish humans would just stop burdening the planet and the rest of society with more new humans. This is self-evident and yet I so rarely see someone bring the issue up. We have identified the enemy and it is us.

  12. jessica says:

    The rise of rule by billionaires and the increasing inhumaneness of
    government and society (after decades of becoming more humane) is common
    to all the economically advanced nations. I do not think that there is
    any first world country at all that is more humane now than it was 30
    or so years ago. In other words, there was a peak when we turned
    against the more obvious forms of sexism and racism and since then it
    has been downhill everywhere. Not as fast a descent everywhere and some
    nations were much more humane to start with and still are. But even
    them, less than they used to be.
    So whatever is going on, it can
    not be something driven by the two-party system or the way we fund
    elections or any other factor that is not common across the entire first
    Thus far, the ideological triumph of the billionaires has
    been quite thorough. In most 1st world elections, parties committed to
    remaining within the bounds of what is acceptable to billionaires win
    Soviet level pluralities and even this far into the global
    financial->economic->social crisis, opposition is confused and
    scattered. This suggests to me that the cause of all this runs deep and
    also that it taps into some features of human nature that served us on
    the savannah but not now.

  13. cwaltz says:

    I can’t speak for today’s military training, but back in the 80s and 90s training was not in the least about training anybody to kill. Most of my schooling was about training me in my field(medical). It was like going to an accelerated vocational school and apprenticeship. The Navy trained me to maintain medical records, give mass immunizations, screen and triage patients, see patients that had basic problems like sprains, strains, colds, stomach flu, give IVs, dispense medication( and later oversee junior people in dispensing medications, mentor and delegate to junior sailors………while I did actually hold a weapon a time or two most of my time was spent taking care of people.

  14. LordOrlock says:

    More like 19th century. The wealthy of the 18th century were NOWHERE NEAR as wealthy as the Rockefellers or Vanderbilts or what have you.

  15. karmanot says:

    Debt as asset will eventually bring down the world. The idea of ‘growth’ as debt will put the last nail in the coffin.

  16. Naja pallida says:

    Ugh. That is so nasty. I’m not sure I could go back in there if I knew I was being forced to smell my neighbor’s steaming load every time I used my bathroom. I really, really came to detest apartment living, and when the housing market was so crazy a few years ago, it was cheaper to get a mortgage than to continue to rent.

  17. BeccaM says:

    I know — I saw that comment of yours back then, looked at the numbers, and was simply flabbergasted that we have, right now, the means to end poverty for the entire human race. And for not that much money either.

    Yet we choose not to.

  18. nicho says:

    We had a friend who lived in a new apartment complex. She was accusing her husband of stinking up the bathroom and not using the exhaust fan. He denied all the charges. Come to find out, the next door neighbor’s bathroom exhaust vented into our friend’s bathroom and vice versa.

  19. BeccaM says:

    Indeed. The estimated value of the financial instruments and derivatives market is now well over a quadrillion dollars. $1.2t in one source I found from an article dated 2010

    The GDP of the entire world in 2011? Estimated to be $70 trillion. The total value of stocks in every stock market in the world? About $50 trillion.

    The derivatives market — which is trading numbers back and forth, representing nothing real, really — is worth 20 times the world’s entire productive output. This fake value they’ve created out of nothing has also contributed to the billionaires’ plundering.

  20. Jon Ogden says:

    Fantastic list, can’t see anything there that doesn’t belong. I’d only add something about the accelerated transfer from a production economy to a gambler’s economy, as evidence by the dramatic rise of Wall Street/derivatives in the past decade:

    Definitely a deadline to be concerned about.

  21. karmanot says:

    And a lawyer to define the arc of the flip.

  22. karmanot says:


  23. karmanot says:

    New Orleans is the ‘perfect’ example—–one of America’s oldest cities, a world heritage site, a rich and valuable cultural treasure, now being rebuild with predator get-rich-quick disaster investors, scholk housing schemes, tacky tourist malls and gambling casinos.

  24. karmanot says:

    The country teabaggers want back exists in the 18th century.

  25. Naja pallida says:

    Crappy apartment complexes indeed. One of the apartments when I was living in Germany was a building that was built in the late 1950s, and I never once heard a neighbor’s television, or their plumbing, or them walking around their apartment. My first apartment in the US, I could hear the people two units over when they took a leak. It was disturbing at first, but when I moved to a new place and it was only marginally better, I just came to the conclusion that it was just how things were.

    The Wal-Mart business model is what keeps our downtowns and strip malls as barren wastelands, full of empty and neglected storefronts. The only shops left are the ones that offer something that doesn’t compete with the big-box stores.

  26. Naja pallida says:

    I’ve pointed out before, for about 10% of our military budget, we could eliminate hunger and homelessness in this country. We just choose not to.

    I agree though, we need to rephrase the debate to the actual truth, which is restoring what has been steadily taken away from us over the last 30-40 years. The Teabaggers are always talking about wanting their country back… well, it can’t happen without some actual responsibility.

  27. BeccaM says:

    I’ve become even more careful about the language I use when describing these many crises because even our terminology has been corrupted by the billionaires and their mass media lackeys.

    It’s not ‘raising taxes.’ It’s ‘restoring previously viable and fiscally responsible tax rates.’

    It’s not ‘infrastructure spending.’ It’s actually investing in our future and responsibly maintaining what we’ve collectively decided to build.

    We have enough food to feed everybody (well, kinda…gotta slow the population growth). We definitely have plenty of money and resources to ensure that every single human on this planet has food, shelter, medicine, and education. The only reason it doesn’t happen is because the ultra-wealthy plutocrats want the money and resources that would pay for that.

  28. Naja pallida says:

    I balked that non-organic, imported, cantaloupes the other day here were 3 dollars each, when about 5 years ago they would regularly go on sale for 50 cents each… and they’re about half the size they used to be too.

  29. karmanot says:

    Food is skyrocketing in our area. The avacados grown a few miles from here cost a $1.00 a piece. The other day the bread I bought at Safeway went up in pirce to $6.00. I thought it was overpriced at $4.00. So now we go to the artisan store and get a small business organic second day loaf for $2.00. The big box stores are losing our business as their prices began to outstrip local better quaility local purveyors.

  30. BeccaM says:

    Gaius, please allow me to say that I love — absolutely love — these long, involved, well-researched and -linked essays of yours. And say ‘essay’ because this here is no mere blog post to be read one day and forgotten the next. Thank you.

    And you’re right: Every single humanity-threatening problem we face is because there are people out there — the ultra-rich plutocrats — who, having more money than any reasonable person could ever spend, are never satisfied. They must always have more, no matter who has to suffer for it.

    Why aren’t we already off fossil fuels, because we’ve known since the 1870s that they are (1) finite and (2) bad for the climate we all depend upon? Because the billionaires can still make money from it. Why don’t we end poverty, because the billionaires believe it is more important they not be taxed than to ensure people don’t go without basic needs fulfilled — food, shelter, medical care and education.

    The other thing I would add to your sixteen deadlines is this: Short-term profit over long-term viability.

    And yes, this is another “But the billionaires are the sticking point.” Businesses used to be created with the idea of both making money and long-term viability to survive. It’s one of the reasons why it used to be, “Why of course I’ll work my entire career at this company, and when I’m done, they’ll still be there to pay me a decent pension — into which both I and my company contributed.” Now, pension funds and capital assets are piles of money to be plundered by the billionaires and workers are utterly disposable. Heck, the ability of an existing company to get loans is itself treated as a pile of money available for plunder.

    One of the asserted justifications for the Keystone-XL sludge pipeline is it’ll create jobs. Short-term jobs building it, and a handful of jobs after plugging the leaks and cleaning up its spills. Long-term? Billions of tons of CO2 into an already over-saturated atmosphere, pushing our world’s climate closer to a lethal tipping point. People are already dying needlessly in super-storms and mega-droughts and ultra-heat waves — and still we do nothing. All of our political leaders, even those few who agree we need more alternative energy sources, also argue for increased drilling, fracking, and mining for fossil fuel. Why? Because that’s what the billionaires who put them into office want. They can make lots of money right now and truly don’t care what the world will be like in 20 or 50 or 100 years.

    Everything in business is short-term now and it ripples through the entire world economy. It also degrades the quality of human existence for all us non-billionaires, and it’s a key component in the climate catastrophe, already underway.

  31. nicho says:

    As JH Kunstler says, look around at the country. Look at the strip malls, crappy apartment complexes, ticky-tack housing development, dull looking churches, ghastly schools, shopping malls (many of them dead) and think — at the height of our power, wealth, and influence as a nation, this is what we built — crap.

  32. Naja pallida says:

    Many moons ago, I decided to take the train across the country and back again. Just to say I’ve seen the country. In the US it is very easy to live in one little corner and never really get to see anything else… anyway, the level of decay I saw back then was astounding. Roads, bridges, buildings, everywhere from coast to coast, were essentially crumbling. Most of those things still haven’t really been fixed. We patch things as needed, but at some point the patches are a hindrance and not a help. Your car can only be filled with so much Bondo before the body panels just fall off.

    I think that fits squarely into what Gaius talks about. Yes, we have a real problem with the quality of our food, our water, our manufacturing (among many other things that are all coming to a head), but we also have a very serious logistical nightmare getting those products to the consumer. We have a rail system that hasn’t been seriously updated since the turn of the 20th century. In urban areas we have roads that are increasingly inadequate for the amount of traffic on them. Even if you have the food and other products, how do you get them to the people when the roads and bridges just to get there are crumbling or completely congested? Then, any time there is a slight perturbance from the norm temperature higher, lower, rain, snow, a storm, all the basic services that most of us take for granted get strained, and then start to vanish. And for some reason, getting help to those areas affected is a left-wing problem, because the right has no interest in helping.

    It was very different from living in Europe, where the very old and the new can be in the same city block, but the old is generally meticulously maintained so it doesn’t become a crumbling eyesore. You can live in an apartment building in a European city that is 80+ years old, and not feel like you’re living in a slum. Try doing that in the US. Not to say they don’t have their own problems, try owning a car larger than a Mini in Rome, for instance. It’s just that they seem to recognize they have challenges, and there is no opposition party claiming that they should be ignored. Living in Canada I saw a good number of the same problems the US has, but mainly because it’s infrastructure is based on the American model, and now its politicians are leaning that way too, but in general it is more robust with regards to weather events. What is a major blizzard in Boston, was business as usual in Halifax. They’re prepared for it, but still face the same challenges with city congestion and an antiquated rail system trying to service such a large country.

  33. karmanot says:

    And Ponzi never died!

  34. karmanot says:

    We must destroy the rentier complex.

  35. karmanot says:

    Absolutely, start family gardens. Our neighborhood does it and often exchanges food throughout the year.

  36. karmanot says:

    ‘They’ are right about several things: This lefty/progressive/socialist does want to take their guns, up their taxes, nationalize Banks, regulate corporations, doesn’t love Jesus and wants to impeach the Thief of State.

  37. karmanot says:

    Our cross country move from Vermont to CA a few years back was quite an eye opener. The country is in ruins. Ill. was an especially critical example. Hungs of concrete and rebar hanging from overpasses, roads crumbling and miles of expensive empty surbaban houses.

  38. karmanot says:

    Well done Gaius, well done. Those of us who woke up in the sixties have been advocating, protesting, organizing and devoting our lives to influencing a turn from these fascist ideals of corporate power. We, afterall, were born in the ashes of WWII. I still recommend Guy Debord’s “Society of the Spectacle” to get a clear outline of the whole.

  39. pappyvet says:

    “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Plutarch

    That “giant sucking sound” has been carefully orchestrated to see to it that the money continues it’s march upward. Inequality destroys growth. Just before the Great Depression, our inequality reached a peak just like it did before the Great Recession. But greed knows no bounds. America has become the country with the least equality of opportunity of any of the advanced industrial countries. Nobody at the top is creating ,they are simply moving the wealth from the bottom to the top. Lets not forget that this would be much more difficult if the country were united. But as long as they can keep a portion of our Nation believing that progressives want to take their guns,dont love jesus and are lead by an “uppity” Muslim, they can continue the plunder. They know exactly which prejudices and paranoias to tickle.

  40. perljammer says:

    I’m really glad you posted that. The market for tulip bulbs wasn’t destroyed by the “tulip bulb bubble.” What was destroyed, is rampant speculation that drives tulip bulb prices. Hard to see how that’s a bad thing for the commons.

  41. Naja pallida says:

    Almost every time we “repair” something, we half-ass it and it’s never quite as good as it was before. New Orleans is a pretty good example. What do you think would happen if another Hurricane Katrina went through there today? Do you suppose the levees are better than they were before or were they built back to “adequate” and left?

    You’re right, it isn’t an end-point problem, it is a right now problem. We already, right this moment, do not have the capacity to maintain our own infrastructure to the point it needs to be, and the only time we do take it seriously is after something catastrophic happens because we neglected it for so long.

  42. GaiusPublius says:

    Agree, Naja. But I’m not sure that has an end-point aspect. We’ll repair the least we have to when we are forced to, but we will repair. Food, on the other hand, can be entirely illusory as healthy nutrition and still be bought and sold. But yes, our infrastructure is really a mess.


  43. Naja pallida says:

    I would add to that, the destruction (either on purpose, or through simple neglect) of our infrastructure.

    Our roads don’t support the number of vehicles on them in our cities. Our mass transportation systems are barely adequate, antiquated, and getting worse. Every time there is a weather event, areas lose power for days, sometimes weeks, on end because our power grid is a patchwork mess. The facilities for maintaining sewage, for treating drinking water, for dealing with runoff have all been sadly neglected for decades now. Our telecommunications seems top notch, right up until you compare it to Europe and then realize that companies are only doing the bare minimum to get by and maximize profit year after year, and are not meeting actual usage demands.

    Now corporations certainly aren’t going to invest in anything that isn’t going to bring them next quarter profit, so the only place the money to fix these things is going to come from is government. And the only way that can happen is if we give up the fallacy that “We need to enter an era of austerity.” and actually raise taxes and use that revenue to invest in ourselves.

  44. GaiusPublius says:

    Thanks, Priscilla. Part of the solution is simple awareness by the masses that they can have a very good country for themselves. They just have to get rid of a few dozen or so billionaires and recognized the millionaire retainers and servants for what they are — employees.

    That’s not the only avenue out, but it’s an important one. I’m doing my best to contribute to that; we have a straight-out “billionaire problem” — no complex explanation or sugar-coating needed or wanted. Political action will also be needed, but I think the climate will provide that. People can continue to enrich Koch et al (and be fooled by Obama, who will pretend to care); or they can look outside, extrapolate the obvious, and oppose those who oppose a real solution — get off of carbon ASAP regardless of lost money and “stranded assets.”

    It’s really that simple; strand those assets now, or watch the future melt away before ou. I think people will get it pretty soon, especially of we frame it for them now in this way. Anyone who helps with the frame, even if just among your friends and associates, is helping a lot.

    Appreciate the comment.


  45. A grim picture you paint here GP – our solution, seeing as we’re getting up there, is to be as totally food self sufficient as possible, live as cheaply as possible – we live in a small western city away from most of the sturm und drang, and mind our own business. We do fear for our childrens’ future however.

  46. nicho says:

    Brilliant parody of the Paul Harvey farmer piece

    So God Made A Banker

    And on the eighth day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need someone who can flip this for a quick buck.”

    So God made a banker.

  47. caphillprof says:

    There still is a market for tulip bulbs. I’ve been in that business for 30 years.

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