Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wall Street Is Now America

by Charles Hugh Smith

The stock market is not just a proxy for the U.S. economy and American "capitalism"--it is now the proxy for America itself.

Leadership now consists of managing perceptions via the stock market. By juicing the stock market higher by 80%, and promoting that fact daily in the Mainstream Media, America's political and financial leadership (one in the same Elite) has masterfully managed global and domestic perception of itself and the nation. To wit:

1. The stock market is a proxy for the U.S. economy because Corporate America is a proxy for America.
2. The stock market has risen admirably, along with global Corporate America's profits, hence the U.S. economy is fully healed and once again expanding, as is our birthright.
3. We (the leadership Elite) managed to "save" the U.S. economy and American (crony, predatory) Capitalism, thus we are briliant, competent and you should do as we say.
4. Since nothing else matters but the "health" of the economy as reflected by its proxies, Wall Street and the financial sector, then the rise of the stock market is also a proxy for the nation itself: America is once again ascendent because the U.S. stock market has risen so admirably.

There is a sort of crude logic to this linkage of proxies and symbols to the nation and the "idea" of America, and the State/Financial leadership has exploited it with great mastery.

Anyone who could sell "change" as a cover for protecting the status quo is indeed a master of propaganda, symbolism and misdirection.

So since the stock market is rising, America itself is also once again ascendent.

Never mind that only the top 10% of households have enough of a stake in stocks, bonds and other financial wealth (top 10% owns 83% of the nation's financial wealth) to experience more than a proxy increase in measurable wealth. The bottom 80% (which owns 7%) should be satisfied with the reflected glow of their "betters" increasing wealth. (The slice between 80% and 90% holds 10% of the nation's financial wealth; I guess that qualifies as "the middle class.")

Never mind that the bedrock of middle-class wealth, the home, is still crumbling in value.

Never mind that risk is still rewarded and thrift is severely punished.

Never mind "too big to fail" is now "too big to fail, but with benefits."

Never mind the stock market rise is the result of ceaseless manipulation of futures contracts, high-freqency trading and manipulations hidden behind proxies.

Never mind that Corporate America continues shedding jobs in the U.S. due to structurally high taxes and fixed costs such as healthcare; Corporate America already earns most of its revenues and profits overseas.

Never mind that 250,000 citizens are serving in warzones; the two hot wars the nation is engaged in have dropped from the news. Nobody cares about anything but sports and the rising stock market, as both reflect America's best, most resplendent values: corruption, media spin, fraud, embezzlement, entitlement, debauchery of credit, distracting media circuses, misinformation, misdirection and propaganda.

Never mind that fuel costs $400/gallon in the nether reaches of the Afghan campaign. Nobody cares how much wars cost in treasure or lives any more; it's all about Wall Street, baby.

Never mind the $3 trillion in Federal deficit spending in the past two years; the stock market is rising, so that proves deficits don't matter.

Never mind the $23 trillion squandered or promised to bail out the thugs, crooks, fraudsters and conspirators on Wall Street; the market is rising, that means it's all been fixed. Go out and spend, spend, spend, don't be a party-pooper.

Never mind that 14% of the nation's mortgages are in default or foreclosure; the stock market is going up, everything's good so stop complaining.

Never mind that states, counties and cities are all on the edge of bankruptcy; Wall Street is issuing big bonuses, Corporate America profits are rising 8%, and stocks are skyrocketing.

Never mind that local government and agency pensions funds are woefully underfunded; who cares about that doomsday stuff, the market is rising!

Never mind that taxes are increasing across the board, along with junk fees, traffic fines, city garbage collection fees, etc. Everything's OK now that the market is rising.

Never mind that healthcare costs are set to rise, even though the U.S. already pays two times as much for sickcare as other developed nations (as a percentage of GDP). Healthcare stocks are rising, so it's all to the good.

Never mind the citizenry's health continues to slide into diabesity and other chronic lifestyle illnesses; we'll just borrow another couple trillion dollars for new meds. The profits will be immense, Wall Street is gonna love it and so will you.

Never mind that personal incomes are flat (up $1.2 billion in February in a $14 trillion economy, whoopie), the market is up big, that's all that counts.

Never mind that the off-balance sheet liabilities of the nation exceed $100 trillion-- with the market rising, we're all gonna get so rich that the $100 trillion we owe in Medicare, Medicaid, Empire and interest on the national debt will be chump change.

Never mind that the savings rate is dropping again; who needs savings when you have stocks? We're minting money here on Wall Street.

Never mind that nothing has been fixed in the banking sector or Wall Street; fraud, embezzlement, off-balance sheet lies, mark-to-fantasy and all the rest of the causes of the 2008 meltdown are all still firmly in place.

Wall Street loves the confusion of all the alphabet-soup agencies getting into the regulatory act; that will make it easy to game the system by pitting the FDIC against the SEC, etc., with Wall Street's proxy, the Federal Reserve, on hand to shovel out more trillions to the miscreants.

Never mind that all this new wealth flowing from the rising stock market goes to the top 10%; you people in the bottom 80%, if you hustle, maybe you can become our maids and drivers and stuff like that, bus our tables and walk our dogs. It's the American way, people; Wall Street is bursting with profits from the rising stock market, so that means America is back on top.

We're sorry about your foreclosed home and destroyed credit and equity, but look on the bright side; food stamps cover most of your groceries and maybe you can do our nails or something like that for cash. Unless you expect a real job, then forget it; we only hire people for cash.

Jobs, integrity, the Constitution, democracy, moral capitalism, thrift, production, accountability--don't make us laugh; none of that matters. The only thing, quite literally the only thing, that matters is the stock market is going up. Don't you read the news?

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