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March 17, 2014

Greed needs cover, and Wall Street has provided it. We now talk in terms of “free market” and “hard work” of the investment class as though they were realities and not fantasy. They are fantasy. Like the serfs of Charlemagne’s feudalism, we the underclass serve the upper class and make them rich. When you are a Rockefeller or Romney heir, just how hard did you work to attain such wealth? Answer: You didn’t work; it was given to you by reason of birth, just as the kings and nobles of Charlemagne’s day prospered not by their own efforts but rather those of their serfs, whose births, unlike those of “royal births,” were not clothed in divinity and the consequent mystical right to rule by reason of divine right.
Divine right does not now and never has existed, but these days there is a right to rule by a new standard – money – and who has the money? The (economic royalty) of Wall Street. Congress is at most a moneyed conduit if not an afterthought from the perspective of the rich, just another cost of doing business. The rich and corporate class has a good thing going: load up congressional campaign coffers and slash and burn your paths of usury and bribery to even greater profit – free enterprise, you know. Give the conservatives something to cover their greed; redefine stealing as “freedom,” etc. It’s working.
So what happens when former usurers but now upstanding corporate citizens play out their congressionally approved loan sharking among a desperate populace such corporate citizens ordained with their outsourcing and right to work laws? One is bankruptcy. In the past 30 or so years, one American family in seven has filed petitions in bankruptcy in federal court. Senator Elizabeth Warren and her then Harvard colleagues through massive research have proven that the vast majority seek refuge from creditors after any two of three events combine: divorce, job loss, or major medical problems. The free traders of Wall Street arranged many of their job losses by taking their jobs to China, and the medical problems are rooted in debt as well. Such unfortunates do not have the money to pay for their medical misfortunes – and guess who is against medical insurance for all? It’s the same people who caused these people to be so broke they couldn’t afford medical insurance premiums, a political proposition conservatives approve. Usurious money-lending rates of over 100% by Wall Street covers also drive many to bankruptcy (and some to suicide). Hardly an “old time value;” it started in 1978.
The idea of bankruptcy from the time it started was that it would wipe the slate clean and give bankrupts a fresh start, but even this organic rationale for bankruptcy was changed by a Republican Congress via a Wall Street bankers’ commandment to amend the bankruptcy code in an act George Bush signed in 2005. The newly modified act redefines what may or may not be discharged in bankruptcy. Start with student debt of now over a trillion dollars which is adversely affecting our economy and even our culture. With no relief in bankruptcy, it is not only student debtors who are hurting; it is also aggregate demand in the economy. They are not marrying, not buying housing, not buying stoves and refrigerators, staying with parents. They are either jobless or working at beginning jobs for which they are over-qualified, with good-paying jobs they should be working lost to automation and China. Even some professional jobs are performed offshore – like radiologists’ readings in India at bargain rates.
The outpouring of jobs to China and other low wage jurisdictions plus the inroads of automation here have brought us a “more people than jobs” problem, a problem we have to solve to remain viable and socially cohesive as a First World nation-state, and more deregulation and subsidy of greed and avarice (as urged by Wall Street and conservatives) are not solutions, as I will discuss in Part III. GERALD E


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