Friday, June 2, 2017

Economic terrorism & sadism have killed the American Dream

"We live in the age of rich bullies."

--D.D. Guttenplan, editor at large, The Nation magazine, May 26, 2017 ("While Democrats Bicker, Another Bully Wins an Election") 

Above: "Doomed," an etching by Michael J. Gallagher (1898-1965), created while he was in the WPA, ca. 1935-1943. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art.

Signs of economic terrorism & sadism

Taking our jobs, while demanding we get a job: The super-wealthy, in order to sate their greed, have sent many of our jobs to third-world labor markets. At the same time, their political puppets across the nation are calling us lazy bums and, with shameless irony, telling us, "We need you to go to work." 

Bankruptcy injustice: If we go to college, we're likely to rack up large debts. If we rack up large debts, and then have trouble finding work (or fall on hard times), it's difficult or impossible to discharge those debts through bankruptcy, even though the rich, like Donald Trump, can utilize bankruptcy time and time again for their debts. 

College debt, or a death of despair? If we don't go to college, we're more likely to die a death of despair, thanks to stagnant wages and reduced benefits. Of course, a college degree is no guarantee of good wages or strong benefits either (see, e.g., "U.S. College Grads See Slim-to-Nothing Wage Gains Since Recession," Bloomberg Markets, March 30, 2017).

The credit & job tar pit: If you lose your job, and your credit score suffers, that lower credit score could hinder you from getting a new job. To put it another way: your bad credit score can prevent you from getting a good job, but without a good job you can't improve your credit score (read that again, very carefully). And, to pour salt into the wound, if you have serious trouble finding a new job (for whatever reason), you may be discriminated against for being unemployed for so long. 

The jobs fallacy: Republicans tell us that there are plenty of jobs out there, and therefore, if we'd stop being so lazy, everything would be fine. But then they tell us that liberals have destroyed the economy, and so there just aren't enough jobs out there.  

Debt persecution: If you can't pay your debt, because you can't find work, or your job doesn't pay much, the super-wealthy, through their debt collection agencies, will harass you with endless (and many times illegal) phone calls. And currently, they're lobbying the government for permission to harass not only you, but also your family and friends (yes, over your debt).

Killing people for cash: Many super-wealthy Americans want to kick low-income men, women, children, and infants off their health insurance (e.g., Medicaid and CHIP) - because the super-wealthy want more tax cuts. Currently, the super-wealthy are enjoying record wealth; but that's not good enough for them. They want more cash. And if low-income Americans have to die or suffer for it, that's perfectly fine with them. It's crystal clear that many super-wealthy Americans think poor Americans are sub-human, and unworthy of life (let alone the American Dream).

Above: What is the mindset of Corporate America and its super-wealthy CEOs and investors? In this video clip, from an April 2017 episode of Thom Hartmann's show, "The Big Picture," prominent trial attorney Mike Papantonio discusses America's corporate culture and (at 4:10) says, "They're graduating more sociopaths from MBA schools nowadays, and those sociopaths go to work as CEOs... I would really love to see a study where they do an MPPI, a personal profile on some of these kids that are coming through MBA schools right now. It would be terrifying, I promise you. I sit across the table from them all the time, take their depositions, and sometimes it sends chills down my back..."

For tens of millions of Americans, the doorway to the American Dream has been permanently shut. They will never earn a good wage, they will never get out of debt, and they will never be able to start a family. They live in a Kafkaesque economic system where, no matter what they do, and no matter what life strategy they try, they will never escape from their financial despair. Many have come to terms with this reality, and record numbers are now killing themselves. In the wake of these suicides, super-wealthy Americans frown a little, feign some concern, shed a crocodile tear or two, and then, without introspection, descend on their next batch of victims. To them, it's not life that's being extinguished through despair and suicide - it's just a few lost financial transactions.  

The New Deal's ethos of empathy is gone and, for tens of millions of people, the American Dream is gone too. Economic terrorism & sadism now rules the land.

Above: "Death of an Idea," a lithograph by Grace Rivet Clements (1905-1969), created while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1937. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and University of Iowa Museum of Art.

"Markets are shaped by the rules of the game. Our political system has written rules that benefit the rich at the expense of others. Financial regulations allow predatory lending and abusive credit-card practices that transfer money from the bottom to the top. So do bankruptcy laws that provide priority for derivatives... America used to be thought of as the land of opportunity. Today, a child’s life chances are more dependent on the income of his or her parents than in Europe, or any other of the advanced industrial countries for which there are data. The US worked hard to create the American dream of opportunity. But today, that dream is a myth."

--Joseph Stiglitz, nobel-winning economist, "America is no longer a land of opportunity," Financial Times, June 25, 2012


  1. The political artists of the New Deal vĂ lidate and celebrate the ideal that beauty is truth. This blog translates what seems like a distant and unlikely history into the present fall of democracy and the civility of power. The juxtaposition is vital, please keep the ideal that is the New Deal alive.

    1. Thanks, yes, it's sad to see our country sink and sink and sink. The New Deal may not have been perfect, but the IDEA behind it was pretty close to perfect.