Friday, June 03, 2011

USA: ''Apart from killing people, we really don't do anything anymore''

The header included, there's not much I could argue with in this Mike Whitney article.

One thing that did catch my eye, but which might have been meaningless had I not my own metric for regarding the question thus: So, how can you sustain a middle class on a measly $9.50 per hour? prompting me to do a little research on the issue.

Firstly, my personal yardstick. Imagine one edge is measured in years past and the opposing edge in dollars and cents. Travelling back forty years on my rule, the opposite number would be $8 (Canadian) What a dollar then bought back in 1971, I couldn't be too sure of, but what seems to stick in my mind from 1967, the year I first landed there, is 55c. A gallon of gas 55c, a pack of cigarettes similar, and not that I smoked cigars, but a pack of five King Edwards 55c. The King Teddies only sticking in my mind, because to purchased a pack in the UK at that time would have required a second mortgage. What's my point here? well I guess it's that a buck did actually buy a bit of something back then, but I hate to think what it would purchase in this day and age.

The first thing in trying to get an accurate picture of what's what, is to leave out the word average in any search terms, it's the median we are concerned with. The following piece, courtesy of Mother Jones, is about the most concise I can offer. Although we do end up with an average income, circa $32,000, this is the median for ninety percent of the American population. Wealthiest Americans Dramatically Increase Income

It hardly takes an economist then to come to the conclusion, given this $32,00 average, that indeed this figure of $9.50 is quite realistic. But in some cases, Walmart for instance, it's not unusual to see the figure of $8. Forty years on.

Our Goose is Cooked
By Mike Whitney
June 02, 2011

This must be what it was like in Russia before the Soviet Union collapsed. The government's so crooked that nothing works right, the infrastructure's in a shambles, millions of people are scraping by on government handouts, and everyone's on a permanent downer. Welcome to the Soviet States of America 2011.

I mean, seriously, things are really looking bad. Apart from killing people, we really don't do anything anymore. We have a humongous, over-bloated military that lumbers from one war to the next spreading misery wherever it goes, and meanwhile, back at home, things continue to go to the dogs. How long can that go on?

You can't get a job anymore, because all the jobs have been shipped off to Guandong Province or someplace South of the border. The best you can hope for is some part-time gig jerking double-tall-mochas or steering folks towards the red-dot special on Aisle 9. So, how can you sustain a middle class on a measly $9.50 per hour? It can't be done.

And just look at Washington. What a joke. The White House is just a protection racket for big business. And Congress, well, what can you say about congress? We'd be better off if they just packed their bags and went home for all the good they do. Then at least we could turn the House of Representatives into a homeless shelter or something that had some practical value for people. At any rate, we wouldn't have to listen to the bloviating of numbskulls like Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid anymore. That's got to be worth something.

You know our goose is cooked, don't you? You know we're not going to get out of this, right? The country is disintegrating. It's obvious. It isn't even America anymore; it's like we're on some kind of movie set where everything looks real, but it's all just props. Everything is perfectly placed to make you feel like you still live in a free country, but you know you don't. You know the government spying on you and going through your mail. You know if you stand in front of the state-house with a peace sign you'll get rousted or pepper-sprayed or something. You know if your name turns up on the wrong list, you'll either get bounced off your plane or dragged off to some far-flung blacksite where they keep you in a 6 ft. box until they want to waterboard for the millionth time. Yeah, everything still looks the same, but it's all changed. Everything's different now.

You watch news, right? It's all propaganda, every bit of it. In fact, they all read from same script. Maybe you went to some toffeenose college so you prefer PBS's Jim Lehrer News Hour, because you're smart and you want more "in depth" coverage. So, you get two brainy experts on each segment. But, there's one little problem, isn't there? Both experts are from corporate-funded think tanks, and both of them have exactly the same views on every single issue. But you think, "Hey, at least public TV airs different opinions." Right.

It's all George Orwell. It's all 1984. You know that. That's why we're all so frustrated. It's bad enough that the country's going to Hell in a handbasket, but it's even worse that they have to lie to you about it 24-7. That just reinforces the feeling that we're all goners; that the whole society is just propped up on one big freaking lie.

Have you looked around lately? Have you noticed the women at the grocery store who keep their head's down at the checkout stand while they load the boxes of mac n' cheese onto the conveyor-belt hoping like Hell that one of their credit cards will be accepted? Have you noticed that there are more kids at school showing up like ragamuffins and piling into the cafeteria for a free lunch. Have you been to a state park lately and seen the people who sleep in their cars at night and then spend $.50 to shower in the public restrooms. Have you taken a look under the freeway overpasses where small encampments are turning into tent cities.

I'm telling you, our goose is cooked.

The other day my bank shut-down after 30 years in business without any sign they were in trouble.
Whoa. You talk about shattered confidence; that'll do it every time. There I was in a long line of nervous-looking 50-somethings chewing on their lower lips and scowling while they made their way through the front door of the bank.

"Er, Mr. Bank Teller, could you tell me; do I have any money left?"

Don't kid yourself, when your bank goes under, it changes your world view. And it changes your feelings about America, too. Forget about security; it doesn't exist anymore. They'll fleece you out of your life's savings without batting an eye. Bankers are all crooks, every last one of them. And we're all just chickens for-the-plucking.

There was an article in USA Today that really sums up how bad things have gotten. The article is titled "Feds chase more student loan defaults". Here's a clip:

"The government increasingly is threatening to sue people who've defaulted on their student loans to get the money back. The number of loan defaults that the Education Department has referred to Justice Department lawyers for possible legal action has risen dramatically since before the recession and nearly doubled from 2009 to last year....

If the government does sue, it can go after wages and bank accounts, put liens on people's property and hold parents responsible for their children's debt if they co-signed the education loans. "The most important thing to remember is we want the loans repaid," says Jane Glickman, Education Department spokeswoman.

Can you see how sick this is? Since when has the Justice Department become a collection agency for private industry? Let the banks hire their own goons for Chrissake. They'd probably like that better that anyway.

And why is the DOJ shaking down our kids when the guys on Wall Street who created this mess are still slurping Bordeaux and figuring out new ways to ripoff Uncle Sugar? The whole thing is backasswards.

Any country that preys on its kids to make a few bucks is on it's last legs.

America has lost its way. Sooner or later we going to wind up in the same dustbin as the Soviet Union. ICH
Once again, might I remind you of the comments section.

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Louisiana's Fucked Up (The Arse) Laws
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Underground Politics said...

Whitney made a lot of good points in that article. Here in Ohio the minimum wage is only $7.40 and with the way inflation is getting things are going to get a lot worse for many people. It's scary how bad things are getting and it all pretty much started with Reagan. I really hope that we can get this stuff straightened out soon.

Anonymous said...

"America is going down at this moment. Look at the unemployment rates, the debts, the social care, the medical care fo the masses. But, well, every houseshold has 21 guns, so at least they still can defend themselves. Too bad, the initial idea of the USA was pretty awesome."