The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shock Watch, part 2

Unregulated capitalism rapidly concentrates wealth into the hands of a small, powerful minority, which is why one of the most important functions of a government is to move money back down the Wicked Witch of the West’s hourglass. This is done either directly, with payments to people who cannot exchange their labor for income (the aged, the sick, the orphaned, the widowed, the recently unemployed – these payments also have the salutary effect of - usually – preventing people from literally dying of need), or indirectly, by enacting and enforcing labor regulations that move enough money back down into the pockets of the lower classes.

There are, however, people in this country that lay awake at night, awash in a feverish sweat, afraid that some of their money is going to find its way into the pocket of a poor person someday. They have seen the government moving the sand back down to the bottom of the hourglass, and they don’t like it. Some of it was once, after all, their sand. And even though the government redistribution keeps the whole system going and flowing, they’ve decided that they’d like to keep their money and try feudalism for a change.

They have used their political power, which is considerable because of their wealth, to cut taxes for people at the top. They attack and weaken labor laws, they weaken the department of labor, they fight raising the minimum wage, they try to ship jobs overseas, where they can again dictate the wages. They begin dismantling the safety net, by trying to lower Social Security payments, or raising the retirement age. They try to limit Medicare because it “costs too much” (which is doubly evilly ironic because this same class of people keeps the rest of us locked into the most expensive medical system on earth) They cut unemployment benefits. They try to weaken the power of the government in general, by starving it of money and by buying up all of the bribable public servants until there are very few left who understand/care about the government’s important redistributive function. In short, they do everything the Republican party (and about half of the Democratic party) has been doing for the last 30 years.

This creates two distinct problems, though. The first is the problem of perception. Because their policies will ultimately result in feudalism and economic collapse, and because our capitalist system is grafted onto a democracy where the people have some indirect control over the policies we follow, the corporatist polices have had to be sold to the public with one of the most dazzling and thorough PR campaigns ever waged. Dressing up raw, ugly, and destructive greed is not easy. But the steps have been fairly obvious. First, they play up tax cuts as if everyone in the country is getting something great, when most people see an insignificant change while the rich get huge cuts. But that charade only goes so far. The real trick has been to fan anti-government sentiment by linking the government to social policies that deal with real world issues, but that make people squeamish. So, for example, they rail against abortion. And gay rights. And treating people with other cultures and languages like people. And gun control. And they wrap themselves in the bible and the flag, and sell their suicidal policies to the masses. They have been largely successful in getting people to sell out their own economic interests in exchange for Neanderthal social values. This is the thesis for What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank’s book, which is currently being turned into a movie. They have also created negative feelings towards unions, liberals, diplomacy, even human rights through propaganda, all for the ultimate goal of stopping the government from redistributing wealth. It’s working like a charm.

The second problem corporatist policies create is the actual economic collapse. It’s obvious to people like Alan Greenspan that without the government moving money back down the chain, this country will soon collapse, and then all of their hard PR work will be exposed for the fraud it is. And so what they have done is to delay the inevitable. The wealthy have used their new found surpluses to create bubbles: first the dot com bubble, then through manipulation of interest rates and deregulation of lending practices, the housing bubble. All this maneuvering has delayed the inevitable economic collapse, by creating the illusion of growing wealth, by allowing people to take the money out of their homes and use it to continue to push money up to the top of the hourglass. The business powers have figured out ever more ways for people to get themselves into debt to continue the economic flow of money up the chain. But we are coming to the end of that. People are maxed out on their credit cards, and have taken all of the money out of their houses. And their incomes are dropping away by the thousands. The economic engine is grinding to a halt, and without money coming from the top down to the lower classes, we will have achieved the ultimate goal: feudalism and economic collapse.

Next: the current crisis, and our prospects for getting out of it


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