Lately, I’ve detected a certain sense of malaise among my fellow citizens.
In my opinion, it’s long been apparent that this won’t end well.
Take the stock market, the indicator that our elite reliably depict as proof of the superiority of American capitalism. Wall Street’s panicked reaction to signs of wage growth shows just how weak the economy is — and how much it caters to the wealthy.
In fact, the stock market, despite commentators cheerful pronouncements about universal ownership, is an elite wealth creation machine that has little to do with the real economy that you and I inhabit. Going further, Wall Street’s recent ascendancy was based largely on decisions made by our unelected Federal Reserve overlords. To fight the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed drove interest rates to record-low levels and injected vast sums of money into the financial system, a process called quantitative easing (QE).
Essentially what happened, is that in the aftermath of the Wall Street crash, the wealthy and corporations and banks they control were bailed out while the majority of Americans were left to slowly twist in the wind.
Expanding our view from the stock market, things look much worse.
Life expectancy in the US has fallen for the second year in a row. This is alarming because life expectancy has risen for much of the past century in developed countries, including the US. The decline in US health relative to other countries, however, is not new; it has been unfolding for decades. With the Reagan years came a war on labor, the busting of unions and the war on our meager welfare state. All of these neoliberal “reforms” were consolidated in the Clinton years, as the Democratic party was turned into the other business party.
With household incomes under pressure, people used credit cards and mortgages to fund the semblance of a middle-class standard of living. The financial crisis busted that model apart. Household incomes are still under pressure, but money has been far less easy for the middle and lower ranks than it has been for the upper. Slow growth and popular rage are the result.
The US is also alone among wealthy nations when it comes to extreme poverty. That we tolerate this state of affairs is shameful. After all, in a country that possesses the resources that the US does, it’s obvious that this is a political choice.
Then, there’s the other maladies afflicting the US.
“Suicide is a perennial problem throughout the nation. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows the 2016 national age-adjusted suicide rate reached the highest level seen in decades.”
Not just suicide but murder. The US leads the world by a large margin when it come to enraged citizens taking a gun and mowing down their neighbors.
All of these factors points to a day of reckoning that is rapidly approaching. Perhaps the prevalence of school shootings is acting as the proverbial canary in the coal mine?
Don’t think that the elite have not noticed the way things are moving. In my own line of work I interact with the 1% on a regular basis. I can tell you that even though they are doing better that ever, there is a sense of discreet terror. It’s obvious when they discuss all the ways that they’re trying to replicating their own advantages in the education of their little darlings.
And, they’re taking steps to protect their wealth and privilege, working hand in hand with the US government to control the growing unrest. Indeed, many of the institutions and technologies that we take for granted in our high-tech world are dual use and can be turned upon us as a means of repression.
Take the internet, for example. Journalist Yasha Levine has written a book—Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet, where he traces the history of the internet to US counterinsurgency programs.
“My research reveals a third historical strand in the creation of the early Internet—a strand that has all but disappeared from the history books. Here, the impetus was rooted not so much in the need to survive a nuclear attack but in the dark military arts of counterinsurgency and America’s fight against the perceived global spread of communism. In the 1960s, America was a global power overseeing an increasingly volatile world: conflicts and regional insurgencies against U.S.-allied governments from South America to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. These were not traditional wars that involved big armies but guerrilla campaigns and local rebellions, frequently fought in regions where Americans had little previous experience. Who were these people? Why were they rebelling? What could be done to stop them? In military circles, it was believed that these questions were of vital importance to America’s pacification efforts, and some argued that the only effective way to answer them was to develop and leverage computer-aided information technology.
The Internet came out of this effort: an attempt to build computer systems that could collect and share intelligence, watch the world in real time, and study and analyze people and political movements with the ultimate goal of predicting and preventing social upheaval.”
It’s a dark take, but I think our plutocratic owners are going to try to abscond with their loot and leave us to rot, while doing everything they can to protect themselves and their property.