Category Archives: Wages

“Back to the Land” Mythbusting Pt. 2

mythbuster method

Last week’s post inspired more comments than usual, both here and on facebook. Since my audience gave me so much to think about, I thought I might double-dip on the subject of the mythology of the “back to the landers” I realize that my perspective seems blasphemous, and many of you have never heard such heresy before. No surprise there.

no-surprise abuse of power

Boomers, no matter what they do, have always been infatuated with themselves, The local merchants, who overcharge them for everything, just tell them what they want to hear. The non-profits around here are loath to criticize them, dependent as they are on dope yuppies’ donations, likewise with the sharecroppers, trimmers, and working stiffs. These people are so polite that they won’t even ask anyone around here what they do for a living.

too-polite

Even the homeless people around here kiss dope yuppie ass. I can’t believe how many homeless or marginally housed people volunteer lots of hours and devote a tremendous amount of energy to help local organizations that mostly serve dope yuppies. That just seems ass backwards to me. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that the well-to-do should volunteer to help the less fortunate, rather than vice versa.

ViceVersa-Lick-It featuring problem

So, we’ve got dope yuppies, who celebrate themselves shamelessly and relentlessly. Around them, a small army of sycophantic merchants, politicians, administrators, working people and hangers-on compete with each other for the crumbs that fall from the dope yuppies’ table.

Sycophants

Which leaves, basically, me, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the so-called “back to the landers”

You-Cant-Handle-the-Truth

One reader of last week’s post lamented that I hadn’t actually met any “real” back to the landers. I’ve discovered that every dope yuppie in SoHum believes themselves to be a “real” back to the lander, and that they all think of their neighbors as greed-heads, fucked-up drug addicts or both.

greed heads

Even the best of the back to the landers I know, the ones without the crazy collections of vehicles decaying in the yard, and piles of ridiculous useless stuff everywhere. The ones who have a little bit of imagination, build their own home, and do the whole harmonious, permaculture, native plant landscaping, composting toilet, solar electric, blah blah blah, even those people, don’t know when to stop.

know your parasites

As they get better at carpentry, their funky little cabins become elegant chalets, surrounded by effusive gardens. Peacocks roam the grounds, …along with servants. Sure, it’s lovely, but the scale is all wrong. Boomers do everything, too big.

too-big-first-world-problems

They grew up driving big-block V8 muscle cars. They gave us gigantic concerts, like Woodstock and Altamont, where the musicians look like ants, and sound like shit, and the audience amuse themselves with nudity and drug abuse. They couldn’t just drink a “cup ‘o Joe” like their parents, they have to have a double-shot, decaf, low-fat, triple-foam machiato with squirt of hazelnut syrup, and, of course, they don’t make that themselves. Hell no! It’s enough trouble just to order it. They expect us to make it for them, so they can consume our lives, as well as our future. Even cheap Mexican marijuana wasn’t good enough for them. They had to turn it into an expensive luxury product, so that poor kids would turn to cocaine and meth for a high they could afford.

crack cat

A reader suggested that the reason Boomers are so materialistic is that they were raised by depression-era parents, who never let them throw anything away. To make up for it, they gave us a world where everything is disposable, eating utensils, pens, lighters, flashlights, clothes, cameras, phones, furniture, stereos, TVs, computers. Nothing lasts, and nobody knows how to fix anything anymore. Kids today all know that the latest gadget won’t last half as long as a can of Spam, and that nothing in this world matters, except money. That’s the lesson the Boomers teach. It shouldn’t surprise them if the younger generation takes that lesson to heart.

money_matters

One reader commented, “I don’t recall taking a vow of poverty”. Far from it! Boomers spend like there’s no tomorrow, and thanks to them, there isn’t. Now nobody has to take a vow of poverty. We have poverty thrust upon us. The oceans have been fished-out and thoroughly polluted. The oil’s gone. There’s still plenty of natural gas, but they’re fracking the fuck out of our freshwater aquifers to get it. The only resource left to exploit is the lives of the descendants of the Baby Boomers, and the suck is on!

suck job

We look forward to lives of wage slavery lived for the benefit of bloodsucking landlords, and anyone who refuses to to participate in their own oppression can expect to be punished. They can expect to be kicked in the ribs by cops whenever they try to get some sleep, moved along by merchants whenever they sit down, denied access to bathrooms, water, food or shelter, and then made into scapegoats to be reviled and punished further for their poverty, punished until they die in the streets. I hear entirely too many dope yuppies and their suck-ups complaining about “the transient problem”. I see it differently. I think we have a “greedy boomer” problem.

boomers Jake Dimare quote

Another reader told of some back to the landers who were so poor that they could only afford the cheapest piece of land, but they managed to make it work for decades while keeping their “ethics intact”. Sure, …but they didn’t mind breaking a silly little law. They didn’t mind profiting from a really ugly policy. They didn’t mind converting forest to farmland. They didn’t mind moving on to land stolen through violence and genocide, and paying off the violent thugs who run this whole “private property” racket, namely, the county government. In the same sense, I could say that I survived the economic downturn with my investment portfolio “intact”.

ethics no

I’m not saying that the back to the landers are bad people. People do the best that they can for themselves. I’m saying that poor people don’t have the option of buying any land any more.

boomers rise

Things are not the same.

not the same the world

When you leave the world, worse off than you found it, you can’t call yourself a “success”. Yes, things were already going downhill when the Boomers took over, but they didn’t have to press the accelerator so hard, and now that they’ve wrecked the car, no one wants to hear about how well they think they handled that next-to-last turn.

wreck the car

We all inherited a diabolical economic system, a looming environmental crisis, and a culture in collapse. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to realize that, and to know that it was true. They knew the truth about Viet Nam. They read Silent Spring. They saw the Earth from space. They knew. …and collectively, they said, “Let’s do it up!”

Boomers go for bust


The Giving Season

The Giving Season

giving season

As 2013 winds to a close, once again we find ourselves in “The Giving Season”. The time of year when we take a moment to show our appreciation for the people who matter to us, and to the folks who serve us faithfully all year long.

faithful-service

Of course, a lot of the people who serve you faithfully all year long, like your postman, barista or auto-mechanic, your kids school teacher and bus driver, your hooker, drug dealer and bartender, or if you live around here, your crew of trimmers, those people all get paid for their work. Believe me, those people wouldn’t lift a finger for you, if it weren’t for the fat paychecks they take home week after week. So, fuck them! Don’t waste your generosity on those douche nozzles.

douche nozzle

Instead, this year, give generously to the people who really deserve it. Give to the people who work hard for you all year, every week, rain or shine, and ask for nothing in return for their tireless efforts and diligence. People who make it their priority to provide you with interesting, amusing, and mildly arousing entertainment every week, free of charge, and without compensation, acting purely from the goodness of their hearts, for the benefit of all of humanity. In other words, people like me, your humble blogger at Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do.

lygsbtd frace t-shirt

I honestly cannot think of anyone who deserves your generous financial gift more than I do, and if you take the time to think about it carefully, I think you’ll agree. Don’t make the stupid mistakes that trap so many gullible saps into supporting greedy, undeserving scam artists, while good, hard-working people like me persevere through the cold, dark winter months without so much as a “thank-you” from the faceless masses who show up here to consume my work anonymously, leaving nothing of themselves but the statistics that record their activity.

statistics_big

Lots of people give money to help the poor around the holidays, and I can hardly think of a dumber waste of money. Look, I don’t have any money. I’m poor, but you don’t see me standing on the side of the road looking pathetic, flying a cardboard sign, and playing on your sympathies. I don’t do that because I don’t play people for saps.

sap

The poor are just a bottomless pit. That’s why they call it “pity”. Don’t throw your money into it. The poor aren’t poor because they don’t have enough money; the poor are poor because the rich have no use for them, and the middle-class would rather kiss rich ass than stand shoulder to shoulder with the poor against the 1%. I spit in the eye of the rich and the middle-class, and call them on their bullshit, while the poor who stand around begging, just play the rich and middle-class for suckers, and exploit them for their pity without challenging the status quo.

status-quo-10

Some people prefer to give money to organizations that help the poor, rather than giving to poor people individually, but these organizations play you for rubes too. The Salvation Army hires thousands of “bell-ringers” every holiday season just to suck up all of the money that would otherwise go directly into the pockets of poor people. That is, if business owners didn’t harass, kick and call the cops on every legitimately poor person who comes within 30 ft of their business. Merchants love these “bell-ringers” almost as much as they despise and detest real poor people.

bell_ringer

The money that you drop into the Salvation Army kettle goes to pay a literal army of salaried administrators, who enjoy comfy heated offices, medical benefits, and paid vacation time. They spend their days deciding which projects to fund that will make them look good in the public’s eye, while they dream up new ways to capitalize on the pity of the stupid. What is more obnoxious, a paid asshole who never stops ringing that goddamned bell, or a homeless beggar with a nice quiet sign? Take my advice, ignore them both, and give to me, the one you neither see nor hear.

__hear_no_evil__see_no_evil__speak_no_evil

Some people like to give money to environmental organizations. These groups suck worse than organizations that help the poor. I don’t care whether it’s Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, PETA, or any of the fucking PIRGs, they’re all full of the same bullshit. They’re all just a bunch of spoiled brat white kids who would rather take pictures of dead whales, tortured lab animals, or disgusting landfills full of toxic waste than get a job killing whales, torturing lab animals or making massive amounts of pointless consumer garbage.

Landscape

Every year we have more environmental organizations, and every year the environmental crisis grows more dire. Stop throwing good money after bad, and cut those suckers off.

cutoff 5

The same goes for social justice organizations like the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, or the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Doctors and lawyers are the blood-sucking scum floating at the top of the cesspool we call modern society. If doctors and lawyers think they can do something about the injustice and inequality in the world, they should do it with the vast sums of money we already overpay them for creating that injustice and inequality in the first place. Don’t give those greedy bastards one more dime than you absolutely have to.

lawyer-vs-doctor

Finally, too many people donate money every year to support public media like PBS, NPR and Community Radio. For God’s sake don’t get fleeced by these shysters. So what if you let Big Bird babysit your kids or like to watch taxpayer funded programming from some socialist country that forces people to pay for it. That’s no reason to open your wallet for them.

big bird begging

Whenever a publicly funded media outlet asks for money, they always like to remind us how much better they are than Fox News. So what! That’s like gonorrhea asking for money because it’s better than AIDS. Look, we’re all media here. Media ain’t gonna save the fucking world folks. I’m not saying that public media is as bad as a case of “the clap”, but there’s a good argument to be made that we’d all be better off without any of it. There’s some news you’ll never here on public media. Here’s some more: Public media is one of the most overfed pigs at the public trough.

pigs_trough1

They all tell you that it’s non-commercial programming, but that doesn’t stop them from interrupting every fifteen minutes to tell you that the show was paid for by “Saps like you, and generous contributions from Archer Daniels Midland, Cramming Our Food Down Your Throat 247365, Warehouser, Clear-cutting Old-Growth Forests So We Can Plant More Trees, or Massey Energy, We Mine Coal… Fuck You.

massey_energy

Yes, all of those public media outlets enjoy taxpayer subsidies, and suck-up to every evil corporation on the planet for the billions of dollars they give, just for the phony respectability that public media gives them. That’s why you never hear anything like the biting social criticism you read here at lygsbtd, on public media. Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do challenges the right, the left, and everyone in the middle. You won’t get that on PBS, NPR, or even community radio.

PBS

All of those public media outlets know where their money comes from, and they’re not about to rock the boat. I don’t know where my money comes from, because I don’t have any. and I’m all about rocking the boat, because the boat is sinking! Public media still wants you to believe in the system, because they are part of the system. They don’t care what the system does to you or your kids future, you’re already shark bait to them, and they’re the shark.

shark bait 1

For them, it’s a feeding frenzy, and they’re never satisfied. They always want more. It’s time to cut them off, and put your money behind the real independent voice of Southern Humboldt County, me, and this blog Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do. Your kids will never forgive you if you don’t.

never forgive

I don’t take money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, because I can’t deal with the paperwork involved. I don’t take money from corporations. I mean, I would, if any of them offered me any, but so far they haven’t. Any corporations looking for favorable coverage from a hot, edgy new-media outlet, I’m listening, but until we make a deal, you are fair game.

Fair_Game

Until now, I have not received even one-cent, from anyone, for producing this blog. Yet, every week, I give you more. I give you more humor, more pictures, more social commentary, more science, more economics, more big words, more of myself than I give to my beloved partner Amy, who’s feeling a little unappreciated right now. So how about it folks? I could sure use some help right about now. My truck broke down last week and it’s going to cost more than a grand to fix it.

truck broke down

If you enjoy reading this blog, and if you’ve gotten this far, you must, click that donate now button. Give a hundred bucks to keep me, lygsbtd, my truck, and my mechanic, going strong in 2014.

2014-marketing-strategy

Can’t afford a whole Benjamin? I understand that times are tough. How about a dollar week? $52, that’s just one dollar per post for all of 2014. It would really mean a lot to me.

In fact, as a thank-you gift, for any contribution of $25 or more, I will send you this lovely Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do coffee mug.

lygsbtd mug

This is a really nice mug. It holds 16oz of your favorite beverage. It has the Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do logo on the side. It’s a good quality ceramic mug, and I’m happy to send it to you for $25. Of course, the real prize is this blog: Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do, and your donation will keep it coming to you all year in 2014.  thanks for your generous support!


On The Money; A New Game Piece in Monopoly

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

A New Game Piece in Monopoly

 monopoly

I heard recently that Milton-Bradley Corporation, makers of the ubiquitous board game Monopoly, has retired the iron. If you haven’t played Monopoly for a while, I’ll remind you that to start the game, each player chooses, from among a handful of miniature metal objects, one of them to represent them on the game-board.

monopoly game pieces

The iron, never popular as a game piece, has finally retired. My mother retired her iron in the ’70s. I’ve certainly never owned one, and I’d have no idea how to use it if I did.. I’ll bet a lot of young people today wouldn’t even recognize an iron, or have any idea what it was used for.

ironing-mountain

In its place, M-B has introduced a new game piece, the cat, a brilliant move if you ask me. I love cats. I would much rather be a cat, than an iron, any day of the week. The cat might get chased around a bit by the Scotty dog, or get run over by the race car, but I think the cat will do well in the game of Monopoly, maybe a little too well.

monopoly-cat-660-jpg

The cat just might undermine the the entire premise of the game of Monopoly, and none too soon, frankly. Think about it. Can you imagine a cat ever paying rent? I can’t. If you’ve ever been to the real Atlantic City, you can’t help but notice that the closer you get to the Boardwalk, the more cats you see. I’ll bet not one of them pays rent.

boardwalk cats

Even though you’ll find hotels galore on the real Boardwalk, you’ll also notice dozens of cats, strutting up and down and under the Boardwalk, like they own the place, without a care in the world. I think they have the right attitude, and as newcomers to the game of Monopoly, that attitude just might save the cat, and us.

boardwalk cats support

The game of Monopoly is an exercise in what economists call, “rent-seeking behavior”. In the game, you “buy” a “property”, say “Baltic Ave.” for instance. Then, when other players land on a “property” you “own”, they pay you “rent”. When you “own” all of the “properties” in a particular area, you can charge the unfortunate players that land there, higher “rent”. If you spend some more money on those “properties”, buying “houses” and “hotels” you raise the “rent” still further. You win the game, when other players no longer have enough “money” to pay the “rent” they owe.

monopoly money

In real life, rent-seeking behavior has become epidemic, and it represents a major shift in our economy. You can expect to see more rent-seeking-behavior as the economy shifts away from manufacturing and resource extraction, towards this more coercive and direct form of blood-sucking.

nosferatu2

For generations in the past, capitalism must have seemed rather magical. Markets brimmed with consumer goods that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Fish from distant ocean fisheries, cheap redwood patio furniture, harvested from remote forest habitat, radios, toys, clothes and other products manufactured in distant lands, from materials mined in far-flung corners of the Earth, surely amazed the American consumer, eager to have them all. Most consumers didn’t see the devastation that capitalism left in it’s wake. They just saw a seemingly endless supply of shiny new things to buy.

shopping

In the future, our economy will look very different. Instead of a magical place where shiny new things appear out of nowhere, the economy will look like your landlord, and the sheriff’s deputy who comes to evict you. The economy will be breathing down your neck constantly, not letting you get too comfortable anywhere. Instead of extracting resources from distant lands, the economy will extract them from you. Even now, the economy looks, and feels more like the game of Monopoly, than it did to your parents generation, but the Baby Boomers really enjoy playing Monopoly, especially since they got a head start.

boomers

Because of their large numbers, the Baby Boomers already occupy a large portion of the available housing. Because they grew up at the very pinnacle of American consumerism, they have wildly unrealistic expectations for their lifestyle, and because they got into the housing market well before the housing bubble, they were well positioned to acquire “investment properties”, and hold on to them even as younger families lost their overpriced homes in the foreclosure crisis.

Foreclosure

Since the Federal Government taxes the money they make from renting those investment properties, at the low “capital gains” rate, rather than as “earned income”, tax policy strongly encourages this kind of “rent-seeking behavior”. Think about this when you hear politicians talk about the “capital gains tax”. They’ll say that keeping the “capital gains tax” low, creates jobs. In reality, the low capital gains tax rate screws young working people out of their chance to own a home and drives rent prices up.

capital-gains-tax-reduction

Isn’t it ironic that the Baby Boomers, who introduced terms like “crash-pad”, “hippie commune”, and “intentional community” into the general lexicon, have turned into some of the greediest landlords in the history of humanity. The Boomers like playing “Monopoly” with these “investment properties”, and they’ve read dozens of books about how to “win” at it. Even as wages stagnated through most of their working careers, many of them have done quite well for themselves by engaging in this kind of “rent seeking behavior”.

hippies-demotivational-po

While they never stop congratulating themselves for the Civil-Rights Movement, the Boomers now harbor as much prejudice and hostility, based on income, as their bigoted, racist parents did, based on skin color. The Boomers especially despise the homeless, who conspicuously avoid paying rent. I’ve heard the same kind of derogatory slurs, and vile comments hurled at the poor and homeless from former hippies, as I heard from the bigoted, racist drunks my Grandparents hung with, about Blacks and Hispanics, 40 years ago.

800px-Little_Rock_integration_protest

Today’s large poor and homeless population remind them of just how badly they’ve failed as a generation, something they remain in deep denial about. They don’t want to face the fact that the problems in our society run far deeper than the superficial changes they’ve made to the status quo, and that many of those changes only exacerbated the real problems we face as a culture.

satus quo

The Boomers also expect to finish their lives, enjoying the same kind of excessive consumption that characterized their youth and middle age, but having lived at the very pinnacle of American consumerism, they long ago outstripped the carrying capacity of the planet, and have been consuming your future ever since.

Boomers go for bust

They really don’t want to face this fact. They can’t face this fact, and they can’t face life without their lattes, luxury cars and lots and lots of things to buy. So, they blame the poor and the young, victimizing them with their hostility, defensiveness and denial, as well as their excess.

boomer 2

The Boomers don’t understand, or care, why you don’t have the money, or why you don’t want to pay it to them. They know that the law, and market forces are on their side, and they intend to press their advantage. They won’t face the reality of their unsustainable lifestyle, so long as they can extract more from you. They intend to win this game of Monopoly, and they don’t care what’s left for you when they’re done.

People+playing+Monopoly

In the future, rental properties will fall increasingly into the hands of the 1%, who will form large faceless property management companies to run them. They will hire thugs and creeps to manage these properties who will bully tenants, steal their belongings and skimp on needed repairs even more than the Boomers who own them now.

slumlord2

While the constitution guarantees privacy rights to home owners, tenants increasingly sign these rights away when they sign a rental agreement. As home ownership becomes less affordable, the terms of rental agreements will favor landlords even more. Rentals will become less secure, less private, and more expensive, as the 1% uses them to squeeze even more blood out of their tenants.

slumlord-sm2

Enter, the cat. Cats play by their own rules. Cats hunt ferociously. Cats scavenge effectively. Cats beg endearingly. Cats hide invisibly and cats howl incessantly. Cats are inscrutable. Cats are unpredictable, and cats are the most effective killing machines nature ever unleashed on planet Earth.

ferocious cat

Cats know how to get their way, but cats never pay rent. As a newcomer to this game, you don’t stand a chance if you play by their rules, but as a cat, you can strut up and down boardwalk like you own the place without a care in the world. Take what you need and stay out from under foot. There’s some Monopoly advice that’s On the Money.

boardwalk cats under


On The Money; “Quantitative Easing”

On The Money

Economics for the 99%

How “Quantitative Easing” Makes Life More Difficult

porky and bust

Over the last few years, the Federal Reserve has pumped trillions of dollars into the economy in an effort to spur growth, through a program they call “Quantitative Easing”. Many feared that this would lead to spiraling inflation, but outside of food and energy, prices have not risen much in the last few years. How was the Fed able to pump so much liquidity into the economy without triggering Zimbabwe-like hyper-inflation, or even Carter era-like double-digit inflation?

 inflation

Usually, when a country pumps a lot of liquidity into the economy, they put that money into the hands of the people, through government jobs programs, relief aid, etc. Poor and working people spend that money almost immediately. When you suddenly have more money trying to buy the same amount of available stuff, prices rise, fueling inflation, but that’s not what happened here.

 monetarypolicy_quantitativeeasing

While the Federal government did spend some tax dollars on stimulus projects, while extending unemployment benefits and expanding Food Stamps, that only amounted to a drop in the bucket compared to the liquidity the Fed has injected through quantitative easing. Instead of hiring tens of thousands of people for public works projects, tens of thousands of State and Federal workers lost their good paying government jobs in this recession. Benefits for the elderly and disabled shrank rather than grew, and schools felt the pinch as well.

 death of social safety net

Money earmarked for the housing crisis mostly went to the banks who made the bad loans, not the poor people who lost their homes. While the Fed continued to print money like Safeway circulars, the vast majority of us haven’t seen any of it. Since we still don’t have any money, we can’t go out and buy stuff. Since we can’t buy stuff, stuff sits on shelves. When stuff sits on shelves, retailers can’t raise prices, and inflation remains low, but where did all the money go?

 quantitative-easing-bond-market

According to Harper’s Index, about 90% of all new income generated since the recession started, went to the wealthiest 10% of the population. Among them, the top one-tenth of 1% took the lion’s share. The Fed carefully funneled all of this new liquidity into the pockets of the super-rich. That money went to bank reserves, bank executives, bank shareholders, financial executives and the like. Those people already have lots of money and extravagant lifestyles, so the rest of the economy hardly noticed the trillions of dollars the Fed handed them, because mostly, it got squirreled away in oversea tax havens.

 quantitative-easing-programs-and-policy-easing-is-not-increased-the-us-money-supply

Now, however, we begin to see that money coming back into the market, to buy up foreclosed and distressed homes. Home prices, you’ll doubtless recall, surged to astronomical heights riding a nationwide housing bubble, fueled by lender’s eagerness to loan extraordinary amounts of money against extremely ordinary homes. Somehow, this hyper-inflation in the housing market seemed like a good thing at the time.

 tlc_

Eventually, however, ordinary people failed to earn the extraordinary amounts of income that the lenders assured them they would, leading to the complete collapse of the housing market, bank failures, and a massive taxpayer bailout…of the banks, while millions of families lost their homes through foreclosure.

 perfect storm

For the last few years, a huge glut of overpriced homes, that rich people wouldn’t be caught dead in, but working people cannot afford, has depressed the real-estate market. The invisible hand of the free market should cause the hyper-inflated prices of these ugly suburban homes to drop until ugly suburban families can afford to buy them, but thanks to the Fed, and their “quantitative easing”, the rich now have enough money to buy all of these homes, even though they still sell for twice their pre-bubble price. The rich can then rent these ugly suburban homes to ugly suburban families by the month or year, making them a sound investment once again

 housing-cartoon

Do you see how that worked? First the banks created hyper-inflation in the housing market. When that went bust, the banks held a gun to the government’s head and demanded a taxpayer bailout, and we all lost our homes and our jobs, which sent the economy into a tailspin. Then the Fed printed a lot of cash and gave it to the rich, so that they could afford to buy up all of our homes and rent them back to us. That way, instead of creating new hyper-inflation with all of that new liquidity, the Fed just preserved the leftover hyper-inflation from the housing bubble, thus relieving us, as working people, from the burden of home ownership, and the accumulation of all of that pesky equity. Wasn’t that clever?

 Being evil-500x500

Lo and behold, now it looks like the economy is recovering. Isn’t that great? Most of us are still worse off than we were 10 years ago, but for the 1%, The Great Recession represents a major victory in their efforts to enslave the American people. Why do you think they call it “The Great Recession”, while the rest of us call it “The New Normal”? You can bet that as soon as you get used to “The New Normal”, the economy will tank again, and they’ll expect you to make even more sacrifices to prop it up. There’s a look at “Quantitative Easing” that’s On The Money.

bernanke explains qe


On The Money; What Middle-Class?

On The Money

Economics for the 99%

What Middle-Class?

 middle class

If you took a drink every time you heard a politician say “middle-class”, you could have stayed smashed since last January. Isn’t it strange that here in the US, where “Marxism” “communism” or even “socialism” have become foul language, the Marxist concept of an expanding middle-class remains hugely popular. So much so, that every politician in America constantly promises to help grow the middle-class.

drinking contest

For a while in the US, we had a real middle-class. Strong labor unions organized workers and wages rose for workers as a result. Thanks to unions like the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO and the UAW, working people enjoyed home-ownership and considerable creature comforts. This was the age of Levittown houses and populux consumerism, and a brand new vision of widespread middle-class affluence that came to be known as the American Dream.

american_dream

Just like Marx predicted, workers organized, took control of the means of production, demanded higher wages, and the middle-class was born. And, for a while, it persisted, until capitalists found plenty of cheap, unorganized labor in China. Today, that middle-class has mostly retired. Thirty years of union-busting, outsourcing, downsizing, and wage stagnation have exacted a huge toll on the middle-class. In fact, you’d hardly recognize it today.

chinese_labor

Today, instead of an economy based on manufacturing, we have a service based economy brimming with low-wage, high-stress customer-service jobs. Facing lower wages (the “new normal”), higher housing, food, energy and health-care costs, the standard of living for most American workers has plunged precipitously in the last twenty years. Strangely, we still think of ourselves as middle-class.

MiddleClassPoll

Hey, our parents were middle-class, doesn’t that automatically make us middle-class too? Like it was genetic or something, but no, you are not middle-class anymore. The fact that you have three roommates helping to pay the rent should clue you in to that. The middle-class has vanished.

middle-class stinking

In the crater left by the imploding middle-class, we find the bourgeois. That is, the landlords, lawyers, cops, and businessmen, the people who most directly serve, and emulate the super-rich, the ones who already had money before the middle-class was born. These people are happy to be rid of the riffraff, and glad to have a whole new underclass of people to exploit.

landlord wannabe

That’s why you hear politicians talk so much about “the middle-class”. They know that the term only really applies to retirees from that bygone era, and their bourgeois, landlord/cop/lawyer/businessman supporters whose asses they already kiss. They know that a lot of people, who do not own property, or stocks, or investment income, but instead work for a living, at low wages, still identify with the middle-class, even though they got kicked out of the club decades ago.

middle class

When politicians promise to help the middle-class, they don’t mean that they will help you become middle-class. They mean that they will hold you down so the bourgeois can fuck you over. If you don’t like this old French term, call them the gentry, or the property owning class, or better yet, the landlords. Would you vote for a candidate who promised to help landlords? How about a candidate who promised to punish landlords? Now we’re talking, am I right?

landlord gets his

We have good reason to despise landlords, as we do cops, lawyers prisons and politicians, and they have all earned our contempt. Don’t dress them up in picket-fence-leave-it-to-beaver imagery, and then pretend like you live there too. The middle-class, Marxism, and the Berlin Wall all crumbled to dust a long time ago. It’s time to face facts, and call a spade a spade. The middle-class is dead, or at least retired, and the bourgeois are not on your side, and the politicians who promise to help them are not your friends. There’s a view of the middle-class that’s On The money.

american-dream


On The Money; An All-Cut Solution to the Budget Impasse

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

An All-Cut Solution to the Budget Impasse

While a strong consensus exists among the American people to tax the rich, the rich themselves have enough political clout to insure that they won’t pay any more in taxes, unless they also see drastic cuts to the social safety net, already the weakest in the developed world. So really, what’s the point?

If all of our tax dollars will go to pay for more cops, prisons, guards, bombs, soldiers, drones and high-tech surveillance equipment, while it leaves millions of Americans homeless and out in the cold, why bother? Why throw good money after bad? I say it’s time to cut our losses, cut the crap, and cut to the chase.

Yes, it’s time to cut to the bone, through the bone, the spinal column, the carotid arteries and the windpipe, and the time to do it is NOW!!! There’s never been a better time, and no one has ever deserved it more. It’s time to AXE THE RICH!!

Really, what have the rich ever done for you? If you work for them, you know those jobs suck, and that they will work you to death, and destroy the whole world just to take a little more for themselves. It’s time to rid the world of this sickness called greed, and to do it, we must cull the herd. We must exterminate those already terminally infected with this pathogen so they don’t infect others, and this bloodletting will help inoculate the rest of the population.

As long as we live in a culture that protects, rewards, and celebrates greed, we live in a culture bent on ecocide. Every sustainable culture on Earth punishes greed, and every culture that fails to do so, also fails as a culture, and fails to survive. If you examine the cultures around the world that have endured for more than, say, 40,000 years, without depleting their resource base, you will find egalitarian societies that maintain their equality by punishing greed.

Sustainable tribal cultures treat greed as a childish tendency, to be scorned. Those who refuse to grow out of their childish selfishness are driven out of the tribe, or killed, though this is rare, because the benefits of living in an egalitarian society, far out-weigh any benefits one can achieve living alone with their avarice.

That is how sustainable cultures deal with greed. They recognize that violence is a natural part of life, and while they do not undertake it lightly, they do not shy away from it when violence becomes necessary. For them, violence is sometimes necessary to feed and clothe themselves and to preserve their culture and way of life. Sustainable cultures embrace and celebrate this kind of violence, but they do not tolerate greed. If we wish to live sustainably on this planet, we should emulate the people who do it best, and have been doing it the longest.

We cannot afford to continue to coddle, cultivate and incubate the most virulent disease to ever afflict humanity. We must wipe greed off of the face of the Earth, and we need to do it now. We can learn to live differently, but we must first stop the spread of this plague. If we love our children, and want a better future for them, we must not shrink from this responsibility.

That, my friends, is a plan to solve our budget crisis, entirely with cuts, that’s On The Money.


On The Money; Soaring Over the Fiscal Cliff

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

Soaring Over the Fiscal Cliff

Here we go again. Last year we hit “the debt ceiling” this year we go over “the fiscal cliff”. It’s like Congress has devolved into a game of Super Mario Cart, and any minute we’re going to slip on that banana peel called “entitlement reform” and go careening out-of-control. It’s ridiculous. There’s no cliff, there’s no ceiling and there’s no such thing as “the debt crisis”.

Don’t get me wrong. We have crisis. We have plenty of real crises that demand our immediate attention. Here’s a short list:

Global Climate Change

Global Ecosystem collapse

Human Overpopulation

Loss of Biological Diversity

Loss of Cultural Diversity

Nuclear Proliferation/Waste

Homelessness/Poverty

Out-of-Control Health Care Costs

Call me when you get a handle on those, will ya. I mean, if you got nothing better to do, put your attention where it might do some good.

Seriously folks, we didn’t mind sailing right past the tipping point on global warming. We barely blinked when human population surpassed 7 billion, and over a hundred species of living creature disappear off of the face of the Earth every single day without any acknowledgment whatsoever.

It’s not like these crises don’t have real implications for us, our future, and our kids future. Life will get harder. The crises they face will be greater. Their standard of living will suffer and we will leave them a much less beautiful and more poisonous world.

And it’s not like things are so much better for us because we ignore these real crisis. Wages continue to decline, housing costs continue to rise, and health-care costs go through the roof because how we live makes us sick. We’re already killing ourselves, to kill the planet to make the greediest one-tenth of 1% of our population even more obscenely rich, but that doesn’t bother us. No, the real crisis, they expect us to believe, is that someday… someday, China might not loan the Federal Government enough money to fight another stupidly adventurous, unpopular foreign war, unless we chop what’s left of our social safety net, to bits, now. Either that, or we could tax the rich, but that seems to be a non-starter, unless we cut the safety net too.

Either way, Congress set a deadline, and unless we meet that deadline, a lot of people will lose their jobs, a lot of people will lose their benefits, and everyone else’s taxes will go up, and since none of those people are congress-people, there’s not much chance that Congress will meet that deadline.

Unless…

Obama can put together a “Grand Bargain”. Watch out for this “Grand Bargain”, where the rich pay a little bit more in taxes, they stick an apple in the mouth of the middle-class, and the poor and the young take a spit up the ass.

It’ll be just like Obamacare. It’ll take a complete ripoff, and make it mandatory. Obamacare didn’t reign in health-care costs, Obamacare just fed the healthy and the young to the insurance industry sharks. When politicians talk about serving the American people, that’s what they mean. Politicians serve us to the 1% for dinner, and that’s what this imaginary “fiscal cliff” is all about.

So forget about it. Forget about the “fiscal cliff”. Do you own any Treasury bonds? Then what are you worried about. If someone is buying you drinks, what do you care about their credit rating, and if they’re not buying you drinks, why hang out with them. If government isn’t doing anything good, why throw good money after bad.

Don’t worry about burdening your kids with a huge national debt. You’ve already stuck them with enough real problems, and sold them so far down the river that you’d better hope they grow up as stupid and gullible as their parents, or else you are going to have a lot of explaining to do. There’s a view of the “fiscal cliff” that’s On The Money.


On The Money; What’s Wrong With Economists

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

What’s Wrong With Economists

Most economists write for policy wonks, not regular people. While they study consumer behavior and worker productivity, they have little, if anything, to say to consumers or workers. They might have something to say to voters, but only because they endorse a policy favored by a particular candidate. Economists write their books for the candidates, the political think-tanks, the rich and powerful and their advisers, but not for us, the 99%.

 

While economists may have some respect for you as a voter, as a worker, producer and consumer, you are simply a pawn to them. Something to be pushed around by fiscal policy, corporate coercion, and government taxation. Your life, energy, time, creativity and spirit mean no more to them than so many barrels of oil, tons of molybdenum or bushels of corn, and they don’t write economics books for bushels of corn.

 

To economists you are just a commodity to be bought and sold, consumed and discarded, just another anonymous drone, toiling away at meaningless work, in an empty life that you fill with pointless consumption. They don’t want you to read their books. They want you to go shopping, and let them, along with Americas smartest and greediest, worry about what’s best for the economy.

 

As a result, we now have an economy engineered entirely to help the richest and greediest acquire more. This economy demands that the rest of us sacrifice more and more of our lives, and our planet, every year, for their benefit. No, economists don’t want us to read their books, they want us to spend more time at work, more money for housing, and more money for health care. They want us to accept lower wages, give up job security, and to get used to being disposable.

That’s how they save “the economy”. As soon as we get used to working longer and harder for less, accept the destruction of the environment as a necessary evil, and learn to step around the human garbage left in their wake, the economy will be fine. Isn’t that great! As long as we’re willing to sacrifice our lives for it, the economy will be just fine.

Yet, too many of us still worry about “the economy”. Is it growing? How fast is it growing? Are prices rising? How’s the stock market? Who worries about us?

Why does it cost so much, just to have a place to live? How do the long hours I spend at work affect my family? How much of my current lifestyle would I choose, were I not economically coerced into working full time? How will global climate change affect my quality of life, or my children’s? Mightn’t I appreciate a clean environment more, if I had more time to enjoy it? Should I participate in a system in which I have no value, except as an exploitable resource? Why should economic growth trump all of these real human concerns? Whose job is it to think about these things? Not economists, that’s for sure.

How can you leverage maximum productivity from employees? How will environmental regulation effect energy prices? How does depression and suicide effect corporate earnings? That’s how economists look at these problems, and that’s why economists suck.

In On The Money, Economics For the 99%, I take the radical position that economics is about people, and how they interact with each other and the environment. Instead of simply looking for ways to help the rich and powerful increase, and accelerate the flow of money into their own bank accounts, On The Money; Economics for the 99% exposes the fundamental flaws in the capitalist system that have led to the gross inequality, and catastrophic environmental destruction that define our time. On the Money; Economics for the 99% shows you how to reclaim your life and liberate the world from the greedy clutches of the 1%, one step at a time.


On The Money, Cheap Calories

On The Money;

Economic Advice for the 99%

Cheap Calories

 

Its official. July 2012 was the hottest month in history. The last 12 months have been the hottest year in history. With the Olympics going on right now, it seems like a great time to break records, don’t you think? Maybe it’s time we gave Global Climate Crisis a gold medal for its performance this year, now that half the counties in the US have been declared disaster areas because of the heat, violent weather events, wildfires and drought.

 

I think Global Climate Crisis has really proven that it has what it takes to beat war, disease, poverty or political oppression, hands down. We’ll call the event “biggest threat to life on Earth”. This relative newcomer to the pestilence field has had to overcome a lot of obstacles to even be considered a contender, but this summer’s performance has really done a lot to remove those doubts.

 

NOAA’s chief climate scientist, James Hanson, says that this summer provides statistical proof that global climate change is real, and that it is man-made. However, if you don’t believe the evidence of your own eyes, and have gotten used to dismissing climate scientists as alarmist, Chicken Little types, statistical proof probably won’t change your opinion either. Such is the nature of denial. Reality doesn’t affect it much.

 

So, if you like triple digit temperatures, bizarre new weather events, dust-bowl-like droughts and giant wildfires, you are in luck, because we’re going to see a lot more of them. Yes, global climate change is likely to be more fun than you ever imagined. So get ready for some climate excitement, and be sure to thank the 1% for turning up the global thermostat.

 

Last year they gave us the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The year before that, it was the BP oil gusher in in the Gulf of Mexico. I can hardly wait to see what happens next year, because it only gets worse from here, but what do they get out of it?

 

Why do the 1% keep investing in fossil fuels, nuclear power, and GMO crops for that matter, even though it will almost certainly have disastrous long-term consequences? After all, if the richest 1% of us can’t take the long view, and base their decisions and devote their resources towards what’s best for the survival of life on Earth in the long run, who can?

 

Remember, that we, the 99% are just now figuring out that the 1% are ripping us off, destroying our planet, and ruining our lives, but the 1% have known that all along. The 1% knows that their empire would crumble, and that we would kill them if we ever get out from under their thumb. They really do have their hands full keeping all of us in line. Enslaving 7 billion people takes a lot of energy, and so, energy, not life on Earth, remains their highest priority.

 

If you want to watch the 1% in action in your life, look for the cheap energy. Gasoline, diesel fuel, grid electricity, natural gas, propane, aviation fuel. We wouldn’t have any of these without the 1%. Drilling platforms, nuclear power plants, oil refineries, etc. all take big capital, and the kind of government support that only really big money can afford. Whether you eat them, burn them in your car, use them to dry your clothes, watch TV, surf the internet, or fly to Miami, those cheap calories work to undermine the value of everything we do a human beings.

 

How so? Simple, you can’t possibly do as much work, in one day, as a gallon of gasoline. At today’s prices, that means your labor is worth less than $4 a day. That’s one way that cheap calories undermine your value as a human being. Cheap calories means it doesn’t cost much to ship jobs overseas to the cheapest labor markets, or to ship products and resources to the highest bidders, and cheap calories means our population continues to expand.

 

Cheap edible calories means most of us don’t ever struggle to find enough to eat. Instead, we struggle not to eat too much. By keeping food artificially plentiful, with capital intensive agribusiness techniques like high-tech factory farms, GMO food crops, and monoculture on a massive scale, the 1% has removed any sense of of our connection to the carrying capacity of of the land. As a result, global human population continues to explode exponentially, further lowering the value of any one individual.

 

So, if you want to see the 1% at work in your life, look at the places you find cheap calories; the gas station, grocery store, your electric bill, the corner convenience store or fast food restaurant. You’ll find cheap calories everywhere, and everywhere you find cheap calories, you’ll find the 1% using them to control your life and wreck your planet. Cheap calories cheapen life, and the 1% feeds them to you to keep you under control. There’s a view of the energy crisis that’s On The Money


On The Money, The View From the Top

On The Money;

Economic Advice for the 99%

The View From the Top

 

So who are the 1%, and why do they want all of your money? Don’t they have enough already? Why do they always want more, and why don’t they do something about global climate change or the rest of the environmental crisis? The fact is, the world looks very different from the top of the economy, than it does from the bottom, or even the middle, so let’s try to see it from their perspective.

 

The 1% take opulence for granted. Their consumption is limited only by their own imagination, not lack of resources. These people all have way more money than they can spend, and most of what they own, makes money, so they keep getting richer, no matter how much they spend. Still, they need a robust economy way more than you do. They need the economy, because the economy protects them from us. They use it to keep the riffraff in line. At the top of the economy, profit has less to do with making money, than it does with maintaining order, stability, and growth.

 

Order matters at the top. As solid, and resilient as our economic system seems, the 1% knows that without strict discipline, the capitalist system would collapse like a house of cards. Those 1%ers, who have become accustomed to opulence, know that the rest of us would lynch them if we knew how bad they were fucking us. So we must have cops, and standing armies, who will shoot to kill anyone who steps out of line. That’s what “order” means.

 

That’s why the military industrial complex, and the prison industrial complex form such a large part of our economy. Even though these endless stupid wars we get into, and the money we spend keeping millions of people in prison for drugs, seems like a tremendous waste of resources to the rest of us, to the 1% who control this economy, it is more important to punish disobedience, no matter how pointless and arbitrary the rule, than it is to reward obedience. The 1% never skimp on the guns, bombs, soldiers or cops.

 

All of those cops and soldiers need to get paid. That gets expensive, even for the 1%, so they make sure that we pay them. When the government has enough money from taxing working people to pay for enough cops, guns and soldiers to keep everyone in line, they call that “stability”. When we pay for our own oppression, and their protection, “order” becomes profitable, and self-sustaining, resulting in “stability”.

 

Even though we, the 99%, pay for those cops, soldiers and armaments, they invariably serve the interests of the 1%, and the 1% always find something for them to do. It’s not pretty, but it keeps them busy. The 1% likes to keep the rest of us busy too, and that isn’t pretty either. Whether its drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, contaminating groundwater in rural PA with fracking chemicals, or removing mountaintops in WV, its all ugly work, and doing it doesn’t make us any more attractive.

 

The 1% need to keep this economy growing, because that’s how they keep us busy. They give us jobs and incomes to keep us from killing them, and turn us into obedient servants. As the population grows, as unrest grows, as dissatisfaction grows, as anger grows, so too must the economy. Every year the pressure to earn money must increase, because that pressure, more so than the cops and soldiers, serves to maintain order and stability, by keeping us busy. As more people compete for fewer resources, the amount of resources necessary to maintain order and stability increases as well, so growth insures stability.

 

You see, to the 1%, the rest of us just look like so many goats and sheep. We are just livestock to them. For them, the economy acts as a domestication program. As long as they can keep the economy rolling along, we will do whatever they want. We’ll go to school to learn the material, at our own cost, then take an unpaid internship to acquire the skills, and then beg them to hire us, and accept whatever they offer. It took no small amount of effort to reduce us to this level of submissiveness and obedience, and they’ve been at it for some time.

 

Flexibility” they call it. We have a very “flexible” workforce here in the US. We’ll do pretty much anything for a job. Relocate? No problem, Pay cut? Sure, I’m a team player. No benefits? OK, I’m healthy enough. Unpaid overtime? Yeah, I always give 110%, just because I love my job, no matter how bad it sucks. How did it come to this? When did Americans turn into such pathetic little boot-licks, and why?

 

The economy did this to us. The 1% uses the global economy to make us more obedient, docile, and trusting, all of the traits you might look for in a dog. The 1% has exploited the resources of the world, laid waste to the global ecosystem, and expropriated the content of our lives, for the primary purpose of domesticating the human race, to make us into obedient servants. The 1% uses the economy to turn us, the wolf at their door, into the dog tied up in their yard..

 

It takes a lot of energy to keep us all busy, and we destroy a lot of the environment in the process, but to the 1%, that is a small price to pay for the order, stability and security that a robust economy provides them. That’s why the 1% completely fails to address global climate change. We don’t burn so much energy because we need it to live decent lives, we burn so much energy because they need it, to control our lives. To the 1%, the 99% represents a much more immediate threat than global climate change. So, for the 1%, order, stability, and growth will always take precedence over the environment.

 

Despite the fact that all money flows toward the 1%, we must understand that the vast majority of economic activity in the world is not about making the 1% richer, the purpose of most economic activity is to keep us all too busy, and too dependent, to challenge or even question their power. As long as we stay focused on money, and will settle for a paycheck, we remain loyal servants of the 1%.

 

That’s why the 1% get so concerned about the unemployment rate. None of them work at jobs, but for them, full employment means order, stability, and growth. Order, stability and growth may sound like good things, but you should always remember what they mean. “Order” means everyone does what they are told, and almost nobody dares to step out of line. “Stability” means that tomorrow, everyone will get up in the morning and do it again, just like today, yesterday, last week, last month or last year, even though we all hate doing it and its destroying the planet. “Growth” means that every year you will pay more, and work harder for less.

 

This human domestication program they call “the economy” produces order, stability and growth, for the 1%, at the expense of the environment, our quality of life, and our humanity. Neither our lives nor our environment will improve as long as we continue to serve their interests. That’s a view of the economy, from the perspective of the 1%, that’s On The Money.


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