“Things seem to be getting worse more slowly. There’s some reason to think we’re stabilizing.”
— Paul Krugman
Economists say the recession is getting better, was never all that bad, will end soon, or is already over. Yes, and the corpse is only slightly dead. Our economy seems like an organism nearing the end of life, with medical salesmen insisting youthful health will return with just one more exorbitantly expensive injection of an imaginary drug.
As consumer shopping becomes less a spending spree on useless waste and more a serious search for the needs of survival, that’s good for humanity, but it’s bad for this economy. The malls look lonely with only bargain stores and thrift shops showing signs of life in a downward trend still relatively slight here, by comparison to the suffering being experienced elsewhere. But even if we are truly nearing an end of one in a series of recessions, it will still be a time of great hardship for millions without credit, jobs or savings. And many members of the upscale class are likely to see a serious downscale in their buying power and life styles.
The collapse of our financial market casino and its forced rescue by taxpayers was a result of the latest scam to bring greater private profit to some of us by delivering greater social loss to most of us. An actuarial capitalist ponzi scheme relied on massive number crunching, with billions of calculations to perform what was called debt leveraging. This was simply the insurance equivalent of selling enough policies so that those who are maimed, crippled or diseased can be paid off, while still leaving plenty left over for profit. But life is not simply complex logarithms, despite what overpaid math majors believed, and ultimately 3 + 2 will always equal 5, not 6, unless we change the numerical system. What we really need to change is the economic system that not only allows but demands such mathematical immorality. And we need that change more urgently with each delusionary attempt at maintenance of a deadly status quo.
The enormous debt accumulated during this surge of hypothetical calculation marketing is all being assumed by the public, without any democratic control of our investments save for lots of happy talk rhetoric from the latest white house occupant, an affirmative action triumph of late capitalism. He, and especially those who selected and groomed him for the hopeless job of maintaining a collapsing system, are the problem and hardly the solution. Unfortunately, only fundamentalist fanatics of the right are most publicly critical of the new regime, making it difficult to get through the worshipful cult around the president without sounding like an anti-hope fiend. And our programmed ethnic and racial divisions only help highlight individualist solutions that distract us from dealing with our common social problem.
Americans reduced to identity-by-hyphenation need to focus on what follows the hyphen with far more intensity than what precedes it. Divide and conquer politics distract us from understanding the minority group at the commanding heights of the political economy, the one which is being bailed out by all the minorities which compose an unrepresented majority. The now at least partly multicultural minority at the top, thanks to affirmative action, should demand all our attention.
It is foolish for a culturally defined segment of the population to derive satisfaction when one of its alleged members is chosen for a ruling class post, when that person is of the top 5% of the economically defined minority at the top of society, and they are of the bottom 95% . Whose interests will that individual really serve, given the sector it has been chosen by and for? Barriers separating people with common economic interests need to come down so that the employed and unemployed, whether labeled upper middle class, middle class or working poor, can achieve unity to confront the real political and economic problems made worse by supporting that minority at the top , and not remain confused by false divisions among themselves.
We need to become a democratic majority to insure our survival, not as cultural minorities, hyphenated ethnicities or racist subdivisions, but as members of the only scientifically verifiable identity group in which we all hold membership: The human race.
While we are manipulated to support laws that charge individuals with something called hate crimes, we are kept oblivious to a global economy that is one horrendous hate crime, a malevolent social disease that threatens the future of all humanity. The borrowing of more artificially inflated money that is then used to purchase goods and services of materially deflated value can only continue us on the path towards a fate much worse than financial failure.
Many states and municipalities are at or close to bankruptcy and drastically cutting social services when they are most desperately needed. How much more funny money can the federal government print to help them, itself, but mostly finance capital, without a real national calamity? Our combined public and private debt is probably far more than fifty trillion dollars. How much longer will a majority pay interest on that debt, to an undeserving minority, while it squabbles about which identity sector of the majority gets more or less benefits, while not noticing the minority group above them that gets all the benefits, all the time?
Global forces working against the blindly aggressive political economics of environmental and social destruction need to join together, and soon, in order to turn around the inexorable march toward disaster. Retail individual shopping doesn’t contradict wholesale social action. Consumers at a fire sale need to become citizens creating democratic power, or the fire next time may consume us all.