241. all that’s unfit to print: unchained dissonant melodies

 

 

Oh the chains and uniformly planned strip malls that blacken the highways of our country! I’ve opined against them previously, how they suck the marrow out of local economies and pump up the bloodless pressure of Wall Street profits. I do despise the corporate model of business as usual wherein the top 2% of our population control something like 50% of the national wealth. Where CEO’s earn 260+ times more than the average employee while the average U.S. worker’s income has grown a sickly 5% in the last 35 years. Let me quote someone else’s data.

The Wealth Distribution

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2010, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 35.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 53.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 89%, leaving only 11% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.1%.  Edward N. Wolff at New York University (2012).

If you tried to draw a distribution curve for this data, it would not resemble a bell curve but a water slide at Hershey Park. (The slide in this picture is aptly named the Insano. It’s in Brazil.) What’s wrong with this economic set up?  Let’s see, the folks at the top who mostly inherited their vast wealth tell the little people at the bottom to work hard and believe in the capitalist system that is totally tilted against them. “Try harder, Amigo. You can doooo it.  Whoops. There goes another one. Poor people are so slippery.”

Here’s another way to look at it. The graph below shows how CEO’s income has skyrocketed since 1985, from 24 times more than the average worker to 262 times more in 2005.
When I look at these facts, I wonder if we have moved beyond the Middle Ages feudal system or plantation slavery. Just close your eyes and imagine an entire cow or pig being roasted. Enough to feed 100 people who all work together. It looks and smells delicious. When it is fully cooked and just dripping with irresistible juices, meat falling off the bones, the CEO’s family takes the top cuts up to 35%. After the select cuts are served to them, the professional staff totaling 19 folks feast on the rest of the carcass, leaving a paltry 11% of the roast beast to be divided among the remaining 80 folks. Bones and knuckles, pig’s ears and tongue, tail and cracklins. Maybe you’re lucky and get the hog’s maw.  Oooh, Boy!!  Yippee skippy.  Life is so fun at the MASSAH’s table, uh, wait, I mean at the end of the fiscal year when profits are not shared and excuses are made for the folks on the slippy slide of downward mobility. Why is it that the corporate model always winds up looking like a ski slope? Why is there no upward pull for the average worker when obviously there is abundant money for the top shelf company officers and shareholders? The Dow Jones is at 17,200 today. A record high. Who benefits from this success?  A damn special few. These proud American corporations register off shore to further avoid paying U.S. taxes. C’mon. When is enough enough?
I don’t want to be angry about the situation. I haven’t seen anger solve too many problems in my life. I’m not screaming “Revolution” or “Kill the Czar”. I know this same sort of crap happens in communist countries and third world dictatorships. Human nature sucks at its core without God. I guess that’s it:  these statistics and trend lines are documentation of the godlessness of our time. And churches are no better. There is a similar hierarchy in larger churches where wealth flows upward and sticks.
I remember Nixon’s phrase in the early 1970’s, “trickle down economics”. Why is it that taxes are vacuumed upward from working people but benefits must “trickle down” to the little people after splurging on the rich?
The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that “trickle-down economics” had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s under the name “horse and sparrow theory.” He wrote, “Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: ‘If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.'” Galbraith claimed that the horse and sparrow theory was partly to blame for the Panic of 1896.
My friends, we are sparrows, feasting on the pooping end of the horse. There is a dark twisted theory called social Darwinism that comes out of the application of evolutionary theory to societies and levels of folks in societies.
Social Darwinism applied to a social context too, of course. It provided a justification for the more exploitative forms of capitalism in which workers were paid sometimes pennies a day for long hours of backbreaking labor. Social Darwinism also justified big business’ refusal to acknowledge labor unions and similar organizations, and implied that the rich need not donate money to the poor or less fortunate, since such people were less fit anyway. ( Running cuz I can’t Fly Blog)
 Ah, it’s a wonderful thing indeed when you can control all the wealth and then all the media that explains life to the knuckleheads who slave away for the system that eviscerates them.  Read “Fast Food Nation” for a starter. It’s sickening, folks, really. I love my country and hate its distribution of wealth at the same time. The top of the wealth slide never gets any bigger although it continues to grow higher and higher. As it ascends to God’s heels, the speed at which poor folks are repelled away from prosperity increases. Shame on us.
Look, I am not poor. I’m not buried in debt. But I see that so much of America is unnecessarily burdened by the current robber baron system at work.  Tax me more. Pinch my growth. But don’t let another American slide away from a vital life. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

173. Have you tried the new Pope pate?

The new Pope is unlike the old Popes. He speaks more clearly it seems. His head is not stuck in books up a spiral staircase in an ivory tower. His tongue is not stuck to the roof of the Vatican Bank. His feet are not stuck in expensive hand made ruby red leather Pope slippers. His hand, so it seems, is not stuck in any cookie jar of carnality or greed or pride. It’s refreshing. Maybe. I’m concerned for his liver, though.

I remember Jimmy Carter was a fresh wind that blew into Washington in 1976. He walked down Pennsylvania Avenue during his inaugural parade. He put solar panels on the White House and didn’t drink a lot of liquor. He held firm on the military’s budget. (Unfreakinfogivable!) He seemed awfully humble, which was toxic to the coyote/hyenas known as the “Beltway Bandits”. Eventually the career politicians and lobbyists devoured him, and Ronnie Reagan rose like a dust storm, sandblasting the skin off the middle class in America. Corporate America settled in. Lobbyists, like plutocratic bishops, weeble wobbled around D.C., syphoning off tax breaks and profitable legislation for their constituents. Jimmy was ground to a powder and blown away beyond the Beltway. The fresh wind turned fetid. Which is why I’m concerned for Pope Francis.

I remember when Lindsay Lohan was my daughters’ favorite star and Britney Spears was a virgin. And you can add any fallen celebrity you wish to this list of infamy. I don’t blame these folks. They lived briefly at the edge of a cultural whirlpool that is driven by money and lust. They danced along the edge of the abyss for a few years, their innocence in stark contrast to the bubbling cesspool below. And then they fell into the magnetic excrement. It’s not simply the character flaws of these individuals; it’s the jet engine system that sucks them in, shreds them, and spits them out vaporized…thank you very much. Next chump. Washington and Hollywood operate on the same jet engine system.

I’ve never had the rock star experience, where others want to get close to you, drive your car, open your doors, do your laundry. Sycophants who get between you and your money… endlessly pampering your ego until you are the human equivalent of a caged goose with a super-fatty liver…so tasty as pate. The slaughter waits at the end of the tunnel of false love. I suppose that’s the gift of any addiction– false promises and feel good moments delivered (Oh, don’t get up. I’ll answer the door for you) on the way to the slaughterhouse. The British sent opium ahead of their invasion of China. Our U.S. cavalry softened their Indian targets with alcohol. It’s not just Hollywood that greases the skids with drugs for the young and beautiful, the rich and powerful.

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And what drug or addiction is softening up the U.S. population nowadays? A legion of indulgences cage us as we gobble down kernels of our destruction and our livers swell into gourmet gourds.

2269 Americans have died in the Afghan War as of this week. The cost of the war is estimated to be between $4 and $6 trillion, or a third of our national debt. Not to mention war costs in Iraq…

“Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University, have stated the total costs of the Iraq War on the US economy will be three trillion dollars in a moderate scenario, described in their book The Three Trillion Dollar War and possibly more in the most recent published study, published in March 2008. Stiglitz has stated: “The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions…Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.” Oh, and around 4500 U.S. soldiers died.

A 2013 updated study pointed out that U.S. medical and disability claims for veterans after a decade of war had risen to $134.7 billion from $33 billion two years earlier. Do you think that might increase even more?

Here’s the scoop… according to the U.S. NATIONAL DEBT CLOCK, the Outstanding Public Debt as of 11 Oct 2013 at 02:37:43 PM GMT is:
$ 1 6 , 7 5 0 , 4 9 3 , 0 0 1 , 3 6 7 . 2 4.

The estimated population of the United States is 316,823,868.

So each citizen’s share of this debt is $52,870.05. But not every citizen works. Roughly 2/3’s of our population is employed, so the actual cost per working man or woman is greater than this figure.

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In addition to this travesty it is estimated by Bloomberg News that the true cost of the Wall Street meltdown/bailout of 2008 cost U.S. taxpayers $12.8 trillion. “According to a team at Bloomberg News, at one point last year (2009) the U.S. had lent, spent or guaranteed as much as $12.8 trillion to rescue the economy.” Hmmmm. Funny how the three figures above add up to just around our total deficit. I know it’s not this simple, but war and Wall Street greed have real consequences to the empire we live in. But wait! There’s more.

Consumer credit, for instance, surged past the $3 trillion mark in the second quarter of 2013 and continues on an upward trajectory, according to the most recent numbers from the Federal Reserve.

At $3.04 trillion, the total is up 22 percent over the past three years. Student loans are up a whopping 61 percent.

Total household debt, according to the Fed’s flow of funds report, is at $13 trillion, nearly back to its pre-crisis level in 2007.

Image result for millstone around neck picturesIs there a trend here? Our materialism is a mighty stone around the stiff neck of our imperialism. We want it all on the micro and macro levels. Our USDA inspected livers are saturated and ready for the harvest. Pope Francis, don’t put on those bloody red slippers. Like Dorothy from Kansas, we put them on and went to Hell with our hand basket stuffed full of dinner rolls and butter. The enemy is not at the door but in the mirror.

We can barely estimate our losses, costs and debts. My question is this: Silly geese, what have we gained?

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