Friday, November 27, 2020

Moral Decay Leads to Collapse

Our national claim of moral superiority is no longer plausible.

A very strong case can be made that America is now a moral cesspool. Consider just three cases: Jeffrey Epstein, the CEO of Pfizer and JPMorgan Chase.

Sadly, Epstein is the epitome of America's elite: getting away with abusing children for years, if not decades; when finally caught a few years ago, escaping with a legal wrist-slap; acquiring a fortune of $200 million without creating any jobs, innovations or value; buying his way into the good graces of Harvard, MIT and a seemingly endless parade of celebrities, politicians, scientists, etc.

And very par for the course in America's elite: Epstein's crimes were known by America's intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but rather than indict him, they made him an "intelligence asset" that had to protected from exposure to the consequences of the rule of law.

When some tiny sliver of light was shed on his decades of blatant corruption and exploitation, a sliver that implicated the wealthy and powerful, then Epstein was dispatched in classic Deep State fashion, in a manner that speaks volumes about the banana "republic" nature of America.

Pfizer's CEO arranged a massive sale of Pfizer stock and then timed the release of overhyped vaccine data to maximize his private gains.

Nothing illegal here, just another example of what I call legalized looting.

JPMorgan Chase manipulated markets to maximize its gains, and its $1 billion fine is just the cost of doing business in a pervasively corrupt society and economy. Nobody ever goes to prison for these billion-dollar skims, scams, frauds amd embezzlements; financial criminals get a get out of jail free card with every crime.

These three examples are just a few of thousands of examples of insider skimming and gaming the system, abuse of power, fraud, pay-to-play, embezzlement, racketeering and other forms of corruption that enrich the few at the expense of the many.

Whenever I mention America's moral decay, somebody is always quick to discount the decay with cliches such as "there's always been corruption" or "it's human nature, you'll never get rid of it."

These pathetically flimsy excuses mask the reality that America's moral decay has reached extremes that eventually trigger collapse in the financial, social and political realms.

The decay of civic virtue and the social contract is so gradual that only the few who recall specific set-points from previous generations even notice the advancing rot.

A third of the Roman Senate was killed in combat during the disastrous defeat at Cannae; can we imagine a third of the U.S. Senate putting their own lives at risk? No, we cannot; that level of sacrifice is unthinkable in America today. The protected elites have no real skin in the game. The consequences of their mismanagement fall on the unprotected many.

Can we imagine the two eldest sons of a present-day political scion volunteering for combat overseas, with one killed in combat and the other severely wounded? (Joe Kennedy, Jr. and John F. Kennedy in World War II.) Such elite sacrifice is unimaginable in today's America.

As for the social contract: to saddle young people with highly uncertain prospects with $1.7 trillion in student loan debt would have been unimaginable, If not criminal, two generations ago. Now this ruthless exploitation of students--in essence, punitive debt-serfdom that enriches the wealthiest few who own the student loans--is now the norm. Parasitic elites sucking the powerless dry is now the status quo in America.

This academic paper (via A.P.) sheds light on the severe consequences of moral decay: Moral Collapse and State Failure: A View From the Past.

In summary, the authors examined premodern states / empires with an eye on socio-economic systems that generated a social environment which provided real benefits to citizens via a moral code and good government practices.

(I would include the early Tang and Song dynasties in China of examples of such systems that were not democratic but which offered a judiciary of recourse, investment in infrastructure and other forms of public good, rule of law and social mobility.)

Yes, elite corruption is ever-present, but good governance requires limiting elite corruption as part of the social contract in which citizens support the state (paying taxes, etc.) because the state provides for the common good.

The authors point out that citizens expect relatively little of autocracies in the way of public good because the citizenry know the autocracy is a self-serving, corrupt elite. But governments that earned the consent of the governed by providing for the common good are held to a higher standard.

When the moral code that requires service to the public good decays, the legitimacy of the state collapses. Here is a quote from the paper:

"Moral failure of the leadership in this social setting brings calamity because the state's lifeblood--its citizen-produced resource-base--is threatened when there is loss of confidence in the state, which brings in its wake social division, strife, flight, and a reduced motivation to comply with tax obligations.

In the resulting weakened fiscal economy, services that citizens have come to depend on fail, including public goods and administrative control of corruption.

To realize and sustain good government is especially difficult owing in large part to the importance of shared moral obligations between citizens and the state."


In other words, a strict moral code that requires elites to devote resources and leadership for the public good is the critical foundation of the entire social, economic and political order. When this moral code decays, the state and its elites both lose legitimacy and the consent of the governed.

Put another way: once the elites have decayed to exploitive, self-serving, profiteering parasites, the public has no interest in supporting the state or its elites. Rather, they will cheer the collapse and ruin of the parasitic elites.

The explosive rise of elites' wealth and power in the past few decades has been documented and charted, and I've repeatedly posted charts showing that virtually all the real income gains of the past 20 years have flowed to the top 0.1%. This RAND study found that America's elites siphoned $50 trillion into their own pockets in the past two generations: Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018.

This is the chilling summation of America's terminal moral decay from Moral Collapse and State Failure: A View From the Past:

"Many citizens perceive that they have little stake in what should be a democratic society.

Decline in citizen confidence is compounded by a great economic transition in the US, a U-turn over the last five decades in wealth and income inequalities.

These economic shifts are undergirded by a new ethos and practices that enshrine shareholder value, personal freedom, nepotism, cronyism, the comingling of state and personal resources, and narcissistic aggrandizement in ways rarely seen in the early history of our Republic."


Our national claim of moral superiority is no longer plausible: America is a moral cesspool that cannot be drained.



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Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

The Frustrations of Unfairness Are Reaching a Boiling Point

AxisofEasy Salon #31: The Covid Episode (1 hr)


My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook coming soon) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



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Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Dimly Lit Thanksgiving

Our overweening faith and confidence in our wealth and power make this a dimly lit Thanksgiving.

A public expression of gratitude by victorious sports stars, lottery winners, etc. is now the convention in America: coaches, teammates, family and mentors (or agents) are recognized as an expression of the winners' humility and gratitude for everyone that contributed to the success.

As sincere as each individual's gratitude may be, there's something forced and phony about this public ritual of virtue-signaling that has transformed it into an empty cliche. There are various drivers of this ritual--we like our heroes to be humble--but it may also be the result of our increasingly winner take most economy: as the winners are boosted into the orbit of wealth and influence, placating everyone still bound by gravity with platitudes dissipates the envy and rancor that results from such immense asymmetries.

The same can be said of public thanksgiving platitudes in general. We're thankful for the vaccines and the trillions of dollars in new stimulus that will soon flood the land, for these will usher in the final defeat of our invisible foe, Covid-19. Is this actually gratitude or is it just a veiled expression of hubristic confidence in the overwhelming power of our technology and money?

There are three fatal strategic mistakes one can make:

1. Overestimate one's own powers.

2. Underestimate one's vulnerabilities.

3. Underestimate one's foe.

I suspect we're doing all three.

I recently expressed my worries for the nation to a correspondent. His reply was thought-provoking:

I know you may be nervous about the coming 5 months, but I'd say don't. Collapse is inevitable but doesn't have to be unsurvivable. I've always thought it better to live with purpose and what better way then to pass on to my children skills and survival techniques as we pass through the fires of change.

You might assume this correspondent is just another doom-and-gloomer in a remote log cabin. He is not. He is a physician in an overwhelmed Covid ward, dealing with more death than he's seen in his entire medical career, watching the most experienced nurses quit due to exhaustion with the workload and with a hospital administration that blames the nurses for every shortcoming and takes credit for every small victory.

I find wisdom in his response. It is the wisdom of recognition of fate, or destiny, of a long-put off reckoning finally coming to fruition, a reckoning we cannot put off with our vaunted technology and money-printing which we worship as the ultimate powers in the Universe.

Our overweening faith and confidence in our wealth and power make this a dimly lit Thanksgiving. We seek an evasion or an excuse from any reckoning, for deep down we feel it is our birthright to taste victory and prosperity without the bitterness of a reckoning of our hubris, greed and corruption.

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote a short commentary on The Sermon on the Mount, The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air. This passage speaks to the reckoning ahead:

...for the child understands the frightful truth that there is no evasion or excuse, there is no hiding place, neither in heaven or on earth, neither in the parlor or the garden.

I am also reminded of Chapter 58 of the Tao Te Ching:

When the country is governed through simplicity and leniency,
The people are genuine and honest.
When the country is governed through harshness and sharp investigation,
The people are more deceitful and dishonest.


And Chapter 9:

To hold things and to be proud of them is not as good as not to have them,
Because if one insists on an extreme, that extreme will not dwell long.
When a room is full of precious things, one will never be able to preserve them.
When one is wealthy, high ranking, and proud of himself, he invites misfortune.




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Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

The Frustrations of Unfairness Are Reaching a Boiling Point

AxisofEasy Salon #31: The Covid Episode (1 hr)


My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook coming soon) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Our Frustrations Run Far Deeper Than Covid Lockdowns

The reality is the roulette wheel is rigged and only chumps believe it's a fair game.

It's easy to lay America's visible frustrations at the feet of Covid lockdowns or political polarization, but this conveniently ignores the real driver: systemic unfairness. The status quo has been increasingly rigged to benefit insiders and elites as the powers of central banks and governments have picked the winners (cronies, insiders, cartels and monopolies) and shifted the losses and risks onto the losers (the rest of us).

We now live in the world the 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat so aptly described: "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."

As I noted in The One Chart That Predicts our Future, ours is a two-tier society and economy with a broken ladder of social mobility for those trying to reach the security of the technocrat class and a well-greased slide for everyone who trips and slides from relative security down to the ever-expanding ALICE-precariat class: assets limited, income constrained, employed.

As Bastiat observed, those rigging the system to benefit themselves always create a legal system that lets them off scot-free and a PR scheme that glorifies their predation as well-deserved rewards that are the natural due of their enormous appetite for hard work and innovation.

You know, hard work and innovation like this:

JPMorgan Makes $1 Billion From Gold Trading After Paying $1 Billion Fine For Manipulating Gold Trading.

Embezzling a couple billion dollars also earns you a get out of jail free card: none of the perps in Wall Street's skims, scams and frauds ever gets indicted, much less convicted, and none of Wall Street's legalized looters ever goes to prison.

And this is a fair and just system? Uh, right. Meanwhile, the reality is the roulette wheel is rigged and only chumps believe it's a fair game. Those who know it's rigged have essentially zero agency (control / power) or capital to demand an unrigged game or finagle their way into the elite class doing the skimming.

The net result is soaring frustration with a patently unfair system that's touted as the fairest in the entire world. Gordon Long and I do a deep dive into the frustrations with systemic unfairness in our new video, The Frustrations of Unfairness Are Reaching a Boiling Point.

The key takeaway in my view is the unfairness isn't limited to the economy, society or politics-- it's manifesting in all three realms. It isn't just frustration with domestic issues--the global economic order is also a source of unfairness and powerlessness.

We each drew up a list of specific drivers of unfairness / frustration. Here's my list:



And here's Gordon's list:



There is much more in our presentation. These are the dynamics that are tearing apart our social cohesion and that will soon start destabilizing the economy--regardless of how much "money" the Federal Reserve prints.



If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

The Frustrations of Unfairness Are Reaching a Boiling Point

AxisofEasy Salon #31: The Covid Episode (1 hr)


My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook coming soon) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

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Monday, November 23, 2020

Why I'm Hopeful About 2021

What we need is not a return to the corrupt, tottering kleptocracy of 2019, but a re-democratization of capital, agency and money.

I'm hopeful about 2021, and no, it's not because of the vaccines or the end of lockdowns or anything related to Covid. The status quo is cheering the fantasy that we'll soon return to the debt-soaked glory days of 2019 when everything was peachy.

The problem with this "brand" of magical thinking is that stripped of self-serving PR, the world of 2019 was an autocratic kleptocracy stripmining the planet to enrich the few at the expense of the many. Viewed through this lens, what's hopeful isn't returning to an autocratic kleptocracy but moving beyond it.

The most hopeful thing in my mind is that the Status Quo is devolving from its internal contradictions and excesses. Here's the status quo in a nutshell:

The solution to too much debt is more debt.

The solution to autocratic elites hogging wealth and power is to give the elites more wealth and power.


And so on: every status quo "solution" boils down to doing more of what's failed spectacularly because it serves the interests of the few at the top of the wealth-power pyramid.

The Great Reset is a perfect example of this insanity: now that we've destroyed the planet with our private jets, greed and corruption, give us even more power over you.

The status quo is a perverse, intensely destructive system with powerful incentives for predation, exploitation, fraud and complicity. That's the world of 2019; do we really want to go back to that? And even if we could, how long would it last? Another year or two? And at what cost to social cohesion and the planet?

A more humane, sustainable world lies beyond the Status Quo. The problem is those reaping the immense rewards of the privileged insiders will fight any reform tooth and nail, so the only real way to advance the interests of the common good is for the rigged, rotten, corrupt, unsustainable status quo to crumble to dust.

I know many smart, well-informed people expect the worst once the Status Quo (the Savior State and its kleptocratic banking / corporatocracy partners) devolves, and there is abundant evidence of the ugliness of human nature under duress.

But we should temper this Id ugliness with the stronger impulses of community and compassion. If greed and rapaciousness were the dominant forces within human nature, then the species would have either died out at its own hand or been limited to small savage populations kept in check by the predation of neighboring groups, none of which could expand much because inner conflict would limit their ability to grow.

The remarkable success of humanity as a species is not simply the result of a big brain, opposable thumbs, year-round sex or even language; it is ultimately the result of social and cultural associations that act as a "network" for storing knowledge and relationships-- what we call intellectual and social capital.

I have devoted significant portions of my books--

Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation
(free chapter PDF)

An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times
(free chapter)

Resistance, Revolution, Liberation
(free chapter)

A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology & Creating Jobs for All
(free chapter PDF)

Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege

Money and Work Unchained
(free chapter PDF)

Pathfinding our Destiny
(free chapter PDF)

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(free chapter PDF)

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet
(free chapter PDF)

--to an explanation of how community, sustainability, the public good and self-reliance have all atrophied under the relentless expansion of the autocratic Corporate-State kleptocracy.

The social capital and "return on investment" earned from investing time and energy in community and other social networks has been replaced by a check from the Central State--an MMT/UBI (Universal Basic Income) transfer payment that surely beats the troublesome work of investing in community in terms of risk and return.

The net result of the Savior State dominating society and the economy is the rise of a pathological mindset of entitlement and resentment--the two are simply two sides of the same coin. You cannot separate them.

Once self-reliance has been lost, so too has self-confidence been lost, and the Savior State dependent--individual and corporation alike--soon distrusts their ability to function in an open market.

This is a truly sad, self-destructive state of affairs, and deeply, tragically ironic. The calls for "help" quickly lead to dependence on the Savior State and corporate monopolies, and that dependence quickly breeds complicity and silence in the face of repression and predation by the State and its corporate partners.

In a very real sense, citizens relinquish their citizenship along with their self-reliance and self-worth once they accept dependence on the State. Citizenship in the original Greek concept was not simply the granting of rights to do as one pleased; it also demanded a commitment to serve the interests of the many via personal sacrifice.

I often mention that the U.S. has much to learn from so-called Third World countries that are poorer in resources and credit. In many of these countries, the government is the police, the school and the infrastructure of roadways and energy. Many of these countries are systemically corrupt, and the State is the engine and enforcer of corruption.

Rather than something to be embraced and lobbied, involvement with the State is something to be avoided as a risk. As a result, people depend on their social capital and community for sustenance, support, work and connections.

This is not altruism, it is mutually beneficial.

Once a community dissolves into atomized individuals who each get a payment from the Central State, then they no longer need each other. Rather, other dependents on the State are viewed as competitors for the State's resources.

These atomized, isolated individuals have a perverse relationship with the State and what remains of the community around them: lacking the self-worth earned from work or engagement/investment in a community, then their only outlet for self-identity is consumption: what they wear, eat, drink, etc. as consumers. This lack of purpose and meaning is destructive to well-being; we all want to be needed and valued by our circle and society.

This dependence on the State and corporate monopolies also serves the State's goal, which is a passive, compliant populace of dependents, and distracted, passive workers who enrich the owners of corporations with their labor and pay their taxes to the state. This dependence on the State and a hollow consumerism are ontologically bound: each feeds the other.

The era of debt-based consumption as the engine of "growth" and "prosperity" is coming to an end. Adding debt no longer creates growth; it actually takes away from the economy by expanding debt service (interest payments).

The vast majority of developed-world people have had the basics of life since the late 1960s -- transport, food, shelter and utilities. The "growth" since then depended on cheap, abundant oil and a consumerist mentality in which one constantly re-defines one's identity not from social investments in the shared community but from consumption of corporate goods and services funded by credit.

Not coincidentally, this dominance of consumption as the only metric for "growth" (as opposed to, say, productive activity) has been paralleled by the dominance of the Central State.

The end of credit-based consumption will be a very positive development, as will the devolution of the Savior State. The Savior State is like cheap oil--both are at their peaks and are starting their inevitable slide down the S-curve. The world they created was not as positive for human fulfillment and happiness as we have been told.

Indeed, study after study has found that people with the basics for life, a higher purpose that requires sacrifice and a tight-knit community are far and away happier than isolated, atomized, insecure consumers, regardless of their wealth and consumption.

This potential to re-humanize and re-democratize our economy and society is why I am hopeful. What we need is not a return to the corrupt, tottering kleptocracy of 2019, but a re-democratization of capital, agency and money. More on that later this week.





If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

My new book is available! A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet 20% and 15% discounts (Kindle $7, print $17)

Read excerpts of the book for free (PDF).

The Story Behind the Book and the Introduction.



Recent Podcasts:

AxisofEasy Salon #31: The Covid Episode (1 hr)


My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts


My recent books:

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook coming soon) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 (Kindle), $10 (print), ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Simon S. ($10/month), for your outrageously generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Deborah F. ($50), for your marvelously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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Friday, November 20, 2020

The One Chart That Predicts our Future

That our "leadership" reckons "bread and circuses" is what the stripmined bottom 90% want is beyond pathetic.

There's one chart that predicts our future, and no, it's not related to Covid--it's related to capital, specifically the concentration of capital and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.

The chart is a map, courtesy of Brookings, showing the roughly 500 counties Biden won and the roughly 2,500 counties Trump won. This might seem like a chart of political polarization, and superficially that's clear, but the real polarization is economic-financial: there are two economies in America, and there's very little commonality in the two economies.

70% of America's economy is generated in fewer that 500 counties; the other 2,500 counties are left with the remaining 30%. The nation's productive capital is even more concentrated in a few hands and regions, and since income and political power flow to capital, the financial disparity / inequality far exceed the 70/30 split depicted in this political map.

Ownership of capital is concentrated in the hands of the top 10%, as the chart of equity ownership reveals, but the concentration is actually much more limited: the top 0.1% control so much wealth / capital that they "own" virtually all the power.

I hope it's not a big surprise that America is now a rigidly two-tier society and economy. If you're an executive at a big Wall Street investment bank, you can rig markets and embezzle billions and you'll never face any personal legal consequences such as being indicted for fraud and being imprisoned.

But try being an employee at a local credit union and embezzle $5,000--a prison sentence is very predictable.

If you're one of the 500,000+ people busted for possessing cannabis in the U.S. every year, then you're not rich and powerful, because when the spoiled-rotten child of the rich and powerful gets busted, the charges are quietly dropped, or cut to a modest fine and a misdemeanor, etc.

"Justice" is for sale in the U.S., along with rigged markets, political power, healthcare and everything else. Why should we be surprised that the economy is also two-tiered?

The lower tier of the U.S. economy has been decapitalized: debt has been substituted for capital. Capital only flows into the increasingly centralized top tier, which owns and profits from the rising tide of debt that's been keeping the second tier afloat for the past 20 years.

The saying follow the money is only half-right--more importantly, follow the capital because income and power flow to capital. As this RAND report documents, $50 trillion has been siphoned from labor and the lower tier of the economy to the top-tier elites who own the vast majority of the capital: Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018.

What's missing from the political map is the staggering percentage of residents in the wealthiest 500 counties who are precariats living paycheck to paycheck, the ALICE Americans: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

As I've often observed here, globalization and financialization have richly rewarded the top 0.1% and the top 5% technocrat class that serves the elites' interests. These elites and their capital are concentrated in urban counties, and the feedback loops are self-reinforcing: the capital in the urban counties attracts more capital and talent (skilled labor), bleeding the other 2,500 counties of skilled labor and capital.

America has no plan to reverse this destructive tide. Our leadership's "plan" is benign neglect: just send a monthly stipend of bread and circuses to all the disempowered, decapitalized households, urban and rural, so they can stay out of trouble and not bother the elites' continued pillaging of America and the planet.

There's a lot of big talk about rebuilding infrastructure and the Green New Deal, but our first question must always be: cui bono, to whose benefit? How much of the spending will actually be devoted to changing the rising imbalances between the haves and the have-nots, the ever-richer who profit from rising debt and the ever more decapitalized debt-serfs who are further impoverished by rising debt?

As I explain in my book A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet, people don't want to just get by, they want an opportunity to acquire capital in all its forms, an opportunity to contribute to their communities, to make a difference, to earn respect and pride.

That our "leadership" reckons bread and circuses is what the stripmined bottom 90% want is beyond pathetic. This map dictates our future, which is the pendulum of wealth and power being concentrated in the hands of the greediest, most rapacious few reaching an extreme and then reversing to the other extreme. How that plays out is anyone's guess, but the pendulum swing to an extreme at the other end of the spectrum is already baked in: the way of the Tao is reversal.







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