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As if it were not plain for all to see, America is mired in a deep recession, which our economists and politicians and bobble-head commentators now suggest will turn into a double-dip recession.  This is their manner of eliding a grimmer likelihood that we are in the early edges of an economic depression that will last a long time.   As is its habit, the government lies about unemployment figures, diddling here and there with the qualifying factors to make things look ever cheerier than they really are.  For example, if one is not looking actively for a job – say because you spent 6 months doing so and tired of torturing yourself looking for what doesn’t exist – you are magically not unemployed.  Or if owing to social circumstances beyond your control, you never qualified for unemployment benefits, because there were no jobs to be had since you were 17 (say, because you lived in a black ghetto), so you never had one, therefor you are not eligible for unemployment benefits and… ha ha, you are not counted among the unemployed.   The official authorities claim unemployment is around 9.1%.    The thumb in the wind, feet on the ground estimate runs a little in excess of 20%, and then of those duly employed, a fat percentage are under employed either in that they have a part-time job, or they are employed far under their experience or educational level – and are being paid similarly.

David Tepper

“earned” 2.5 billion in 2010 from his hedge fund

As we have been informed, some narrow little slice of America’s population owns and controls most of it.  That same narrow grouping has taken care to own and control the mass media, the representatives of government, the judicial system, and the executive branch and its various oversight and regulatory offices.  As became obvious in the last decade or two, this control has evolved such that great crimes may be committed but they will not be investigated or prosecuted.  Economic crimes, international war crimes, environmental crimes – I use crimes advisedly, in the strict term of there being explicit laws, passed by our own Congress and approved and signed by our own President.  Not metaphorical crimes, but legal ones, written in law.  And those laws are not enforced.  Of course if you are poor there are many laws which apply to you, and they will be enforced.  The United States, leading the world in absolute numbers, houses 2.4 million people in prison, more than any other country, and proportionally far more than any other country.

As if to conspire to hide the bad news, a careful look at the public record – as in newspapers – shows that every day or so a company like, oh, Bank of America, announces it is laying off 5,000 or 10,000 employees.  Likewise do city, county and state governments.  500 here, 5,000 there.  Of late is word that the US Post Office is going bankrupt, but we’ll guess it is in some way “too big to fail” and it’ll be propped with some newly minted billions.  To say, in a cascading effect, our economic system is closing down, a domino at a time.   Whether for the moment the story is in Greece, or Italy, or the US, or Korea – (recent news is that Korea’s biggest construction companies are about to go bankrupt for the same reasons as the USA bubble – speculative building) – it is all a distraction from the underlying basic reality:  most advanced industrialized countries have been on a personal, institutional and governmental spending binge, encouraged upon them by our friends the bankers.  So, dutifully, the citizenry went out with their plastic cards, institutions did the same, and governments did likewise, promising pie-in-the-sky for pensions and the like, and now the cruel reality that one can’t, as did the USA, build an economy predicated on consumption and debt.  In America’s case, consumption was 70+% of the economy, the GNP.  We produce debt!  It should not take an economic genius to sense how this doesn’t quite work out.

While this was occurring, the masters of the system, having bought the political and cultural mechanisms (government and mass media), pulled a fast one: globalization.  In the name of “free trade” they rigged the systems to let them go make whatever they wanted, however they wanted (environmental degradation), and at the lowest possible labor cost.  Along the way they upset more apple carts than you can imagine.  From destroying the local economies of thousands of beautiful places around the world as they built luxury 2nd and 3rd homes in some distant Valhalla, so that the people who lived there could no longer afford a little plot of land.  Globalization brought them instead a job – as a servant, cook, gardener – in a place they could no longer afford to live in.   From uprooting local farmers as giant corporations first bought the local government and then with the government’s consent, bought the farmland to use for industrialized agriculture.  And kick the locals out.  Basically “globalization” gave wealth a license to buy without restrictions whatever it wants to buy – a bucolic island, a vast chunk of agricultural land, mineral deposits, forests.  Or people and governments. It is a “legal” system to permit a rapacious monster which seeks only wealth, and will do anything to secure it, regardless of the damages it inflicts socially, economically and ecologically, to do as it wishes.

Ross Perot

Remember this guy – Ross Perot.  Twice a Presidential candidate, who was firmly against NAFTA and other “globalization” treaties.  He said once they were signed there would be a great sucking sound as jobs and money flowed out of the country.  How right he was!  He was also in other respects very Right – a Texas racist.   But he was correct about that great swooshing sound, and indeed once the ink dried “our” corporations ran out the door to the cheapest labor markets, the least restricted regulatory environments and, well, while they destroyed many a place, they “cleaned up” for themselves: the top 20% of Americans own more than 82% of the wealth of America.  Within that 20% the concentration is similarly tilted with the top 2% owning 11%.   And the figures are getting more and more skewed in the same direction.

Consider where I live and work: greater Chicago. Forty-five percent of mortgaged single-family homes are underwater, meaning people owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Foreclosure epicenters like the Austin and West Englewood communities are checkerboarded with abandoned and decaying properties, many stripped bare by vandals for scrap. Joblessness among African-Americans exceeds 20 percent — almost 50 percent among black youths.

Thomas Jefferson

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.’  

                                                                                                                     Thomas Jefferson

Abraham Lincoln

“The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes…. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong it’s reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

  Abraham Lincoln

Well, we can’t say we haven’t been warned.  I am seriously doubtful that any of our present candidates for the Presidency, Republican or Democrat, would utter this ominous truth.  After all, the banks and corporations own them.  Their role is to carry out a charade of strange haircuts, flag lapel pins, standing in front of the Stars and Stripes and uttering vacuous platitudes.

Nancy and her friends

Postscript:  It is Sept 11, 2011, and America is busy commemorating the day a decade ago that sent the nation into convulsions from which we have scarcely recovered.   Two wars paid for on credit, a collapsing infra-structure, and a whole 7 years in which Americans took their President’s patriotic advice to “shop til you drop,” gone on a spending binge to match the government’s, with pie-in-the-sky real estate promises and other elixirs offered by the snake-oil salesmen.

Then, like the WTC, it all went poof.  The bankers then shifted their tune to “the sky is falling” and the government shoveled some trillions of dollars to bail them out.  And now…

Bank of America retrenches, plans to cut 40,000 jobs

I suspect if BofA, naturally to maximize stockholder’s profits, is laying off this little army, many other financial institutions are likely to follow suit.   That should do wonders for the unemployment figures.

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