Home > Why Any Sort Of “Recovery” In The U.S. Is A Long, Long Way Off
Why Any Sort Of “Recovery” In The U.S. Is A Long, Long Way Offby The Cerebral Aesthetic Vagabond - Open-Publishing - Saturday 4 May 2013
May 2, 2013 – The media – the mainstream media, that is – is saturated with endless blather assuring us that the economic “recovery” is well under way in the U.S. People should prepare for the opposite.
One cannot look at a mainstream media outlet without being inundated with perception-shaping “evidence” that the U.S. economic “recovery” is under way, whether the evidence is in the form of brisk automobile sales (fueled by subprime loans), robust housing sales (fueled by subprime loans), a rising stock market (fueled by the Federal Reserve’s various quantitative easing schemes), falling bond prices (fueled by the Federal Reserve’s purchase of 90% of the U.S. Government’s debt), falling unemployment (thanks to rigged statistics and the ever burgeoning “service sector”) or the low inflation rate (thanks to rigged statistics and willful official blindness to the fact that people eat food and consume energy resources). Why is it that for the last, oh, I don’t know, decade or more we seem to have been in continuous “recovery” mode, but almost everyone is worse off?
The Current State of the Union
My long held thesis is that scientific expertise, industrial might, national wealth and the standard of living peaked in the U.S. in the mid 1970s, and all have been steadily eroding ever since. A cursory examination of numerous statistics, such as the inflation-adjusted salaries of Americans today compared to those of the 1970s reinforces my thesis. The 1970s also represented a peak in the civil liberties enjoyed by Americans, a metric that’s tightly correlated with the country’s economic well being; as our civil liberties have been steadily eroded since the 1970s, so too has our economic condition steadily deteriorated.
The bursting of the stock market bubble in the year 2000 marked an inflection point from the slow, steady decline that began a quarter century earlier into a full speed ahead economic collapse. Since the year 2000 we’ve witnessed several financial bubbles and the utilization of previously inconceivable deceptive tactics to conceal or slow the collapse, but to no avail. As the economy collapses, the government, fearing for its own survival, has turned on the people, both to protect itself from the wrath of the people once the economic collapse becomes palpable to all (hence the urgent agenda to confiscate guns), and to forcibly extract ever more wealth from the people in order to survive (ObamaCare is such an example). As the economic collapse accelerates, so too does the torrent of anti-citizen, draconian legislation pouring out of the government. Going forward, Americans should prepare themselves for increasingly vicious attacks from their government as the economy continues to unravel.
It’s incredibly symbolic that one of the iconic symbols of America’s peak in the 1970s, the World Trade Center, was destroyed right after the country shifted into full blown economic collapse in the year 2000.
In recognition of the inexorable future speeding toward us, the educational system here has all but ceased actually educating people – what’s the point if there are no jobs requiring an education? – and has shifted to inculcating in students obeisance to authority. That’s why the schools today increasingly look like, and function like prisons – to prepare students for a future “career” in one of the many new private, for-profit slave labor prisons being constructed – and why schools continue to enforce absurd “zero tolerance” policies, to reinforce in students that authority must be obeyed above all, no matter how asinine are the demands of the “authorities.” The icing on the cake is convincing naive students to voluntarily shackle themselves to a lifetime of indebtedness in exchange for a college degree that’s worthless in today’s climate.
How We Got Here
The superhighway to our economic ruin is a long one, spanning many generations and governmental administrations, but the chief cause of our current predicament is the wholesale abandonment of our industrial base, a process that accelerated rapidly following the establishment of the globalization framework embodied in organizations and treaties such as the WTO, GATT and NAFTA, and in particular, following the granting of Most Favored Nation trade status to China in the 1990s. Once that happened, U.S. companies were free to relocate to China without any trade disadvantages, and China welcomed them with open arms. As I suggested in Economic Warfare?, it would have been a brilliant strategy for China to import as much of the U.S. industrial base as possible in order to rapidly build up its own industrial base, even if such a strategy required China to subsidize the process by purchasing U.S. debt. Now that China possesses a well developed industrial base, its appetite for U.S. debt has curiously evaporated, thus reinforcing my hypothesis.
I don’t mean to pick on China, by the way; I don’t blame China one bit for wanting to modernize and elevate its standard of living. In addition, the U.S. began exporting its industrial base to other countries, notably Japan, long before China gained Most Favored Nation trade status. No, the blame for the U.S.’ misguided strategy of pursuing a “service economy” lies squarely with the U.S.
During the last four decades, the U.S. has behaved like a person who walked away from a good job, expecting to live off his credit cards, just like I outlined in my fable titled, Sam And Ming.
One of the insidious consequences of jettisoning our industrial base is that we have forgotten how to do many things. Whereas we once had a broad and deep, vertically integrated educational-engineering-manufacturing capability, today we depend increasingly on foreign companies to design and build our entertainment devices, appliances, automobiles and even our airplanes (just ask Boeing how well that has worked out with its new 787 airplane).
In ditching our manufacturing base, the scientific and engineering talent has gradually followed, for there is little reason for the U.S. to keep graduating or hiring scientists and engineers without a manufacturing base for them to work within, which explains why so many PhD holders in America today are doing menial jobs. The best prospects for such graduates today are in Asia, particularly India and China. Unfortunately, given the poor quality of the U.S. educational system, which emphasizes obeisance to authority and political correctness over education, Americans who migrate to Asia in search of employment will find themselves seriously outclassed.
Concomitant with government and corporate policies that have dismantled our industrial base, the citizenry has acquiesced to its new role as a ward of the state. As the government has grown more powerful, it has simultaneously encouraged the citizens to become dependent on the government, for food, housing, health care and so forth, in order to secure the fealty of the citizens, for people who become dependent aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds them. As with most trends, this trend of embracing dependence harbors its own perverse behavioral extreme, known as Adult Baby Syndrome, wherein adults who have elected to abdicate all personal responsibility dress up in baby clothes, sit in oversized high chairs and behave like infants, full time, while their equally perverse “significant other” cares for them. How messed up does one have to be to be on either side of that equation?
Even immigrants to this country – legal or otherwise – are greeted with the message that they too can become dependents – devoted slaves. The U.S. Government operates a website called WelcomeToUSA.gov, which among other things, lists the “benefits” available to immigrants. As with the benefits lavished on the citizens, the benefits lavished on the immigrants are intended to secure the fealty of the immigrants. The growing tyranny of the government and the willing dependence of the people go hand in hand.
The growing dependence of the populace on the government also coincides with the substitution of large-scale corporate farming in place of the family farm, a once ubiquitous institution in America that in addition to providing a resilient source of good quality food for families, gave people a sense of independence, self-efficacy and worth. Abandonment of these noble character traits is a prerequisite to becoming a dependent of the state.
Corruption (of Everything)
Nothing in America has escaped the corrupting influence of having psychopaths in every position of power, whether in government or corporations. Although I have studied psychopathy for years, it wasn’t until someone else pointed out that corporations behave like psychopaths that I recognized the obvious truth in that observation. The two principal defining traits of psychopaths are the lack of empathy and remorse, both of which are evident in all corporations. Another trait of psychopaths is their ability to logically and efficiently pursue their goals without regard to the consequences, which is also evident in the cold-hearted manner in which corporations pursue profits. Ironically, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are “people,” which makes labeling corporations as psychopaths all the more appropriate.
Psychopaths are extremely well suited for clawing their way to the top of their social environment, whether it be in the corporate or government realm, so it should not be surprising to observe that governmental and corporate institutions that are headed by psychopaths behave like psychopaths. Finally, psychopaths recognize and prefer the company of other psychopaths, and psychopaths are comfortable in the service of other psychopaths, perhaps hoping one day to fill the shoes of their superior. As a result, corporate and governmental institutions tend to become dominated by psychopaths from the top down, gradually pushing “normal” people out of the institution.
The reason for dwelling on the nature of psychopaths and their relationship to governmental and corporate institutions is that what “normal” people view as “corruption” is simply efficient business practice to a psychopath. For instance, when a psychopathic CEO makes a campaign contribution – America’s euphemism for a bribe – to a politician, he’s not making that contribution out of the goodness of his heart or because he shares the principles of the politician (neither has any principles), but in exchange for favorable legislation that will boost his corporation’s profits; the potential profits ensuing from the legislation greatly exceed the cost of the “bribe,” so it’s a logical expenditure. Or when a CEO decides to dump lethal toxins into the environment, he does so because the potential cost of getting caught and fined is far less than the cost of disposing of those toxins in an environmentally safe fashion; it’s just business. The difference between a psychopathic CEO and a “normal” person is that a normal person would consider the effects those toxins might have on the environment or the unsuspecting people exposed to them, that is, a normal person would empathize with the would-be victims; a psychopath is incapable of such empathy; to a psychopath, the equation is a simple one: dumping the toxins irresponsibly is cheaper than disposing of them responsibly.
This simple, logical reasoning is also found in politicians. For instance, politicians occasionally switch political parties, proving that they have no conviction to any particular ideology; their decision to switch parties is purely pragmatic, aimed at securing their office for another term. When a politician accepts a bribe – I mean, a campaign contribution – from a corporation in exchange for legislation beneficial to the corporation, from the politician’s point of view the campaign contribution is a necessary evil for getting reelected, as if remaining in office was the politician’s sole duty. The politician has little regard for the consequences of the legislation he helps pass, even if the consequences include harming the very constituents the politician supposedly represents; the politician has no empathy for his constituents, nor any remorse for his actions.
We Americans have permitted psychopaths to gain complete control over everything in our country: the government, the corporations, the educational system, the health care system, everything. They, in turn, have behaved exactly as we could have anticipated, including pursuing the logical policy of exporting our industrial base to increase profits, even if only temporarily. One must understand, these psychopaths have no loyalty to anything but themselves; they couldn’t care less about gutting the country’s long term ability to generate real wealth if doing so would increase the immediate income of the psychopaths who are responsible. Every institutionalized form of corruption in the U.S. is the result of a psychopath seeking to maximize profits.
The legal profession has played a key role in legitimizing corruption and the perversion of “justice” in this country, aiding and abetting the psychopaths who are pillaging the country, while helping to subject the citizens to ever more callous and capricious treatment.
America has lost sight of the fundamentals that made it a great country once, in particular, principles such as free markets, liberty, private property, personal responsibility and limited government. Today the country is being torn apart by misguided agendas, such as Keynesian economics, political correctness, socialism, multiculturalism and authoritarianism.
Instead of recognizing the failures of these misguided agendas and trying something different, or better yet, returning to the fundamental principles upon which this country was founded, the “leadership” routinely “doubles down” and expands its failed programs! This obstinate refusal to change course is partly the result of psychopaths’ fear of being discovered as frauds, so mistakes can never be admitted, but it’s also due to worship of theoretical academic ideologies that have little real world basis and do not account for human nature.
For example, socialism is a pleasant sounding theory (I admit that I once liked socialism), but it fails in practice because once wealth begins to be redistributed from those who are net producers to those who are net consumers, the amount that is redistributed inevitably grows and grows until the producers have no incentive to produce any longer; then the system collapses. We are very close to, if not already past that inflection point in America today because so many people are better off being on the government dole than working. Socialism assumes that producers will simply keep producing, no matter how much of their wealth is redistributed, disregarding human nature.
That failure to acknowledge human nature is evident in all the misguided agendas driving this nation off course today, whereas recognition of human nature is clearly a focal point of the principles written in this country’s constitution. It was the accommodation of human nature that led to this country’s phenomenal success in the first half of its existence, and it is the disdain for human nature that has helped to destroy it in the second half of its existence.
These myriad misguided agendas are intentionally fostered by the public education system, which was established for the purpose of brainwashing generation after generation of the populace, and quite successfully.
Where We’re Headed
At present, we’re on a course that will yield more of the same: more government, more tyranny, a lower standard of living, more corruption, a dumber populace, more sickness, and so forth; it’s rather depressing.
The “good” news is that the course we’re on is no more sustainable than was the socialist tyranny of the Soviet Union, which I’ve long believed collapsed for the reasons cited above, because it failed to accommodate human nature. While psychopaths are very efficient at tipping the scales to their advantage, the institutions they create are extremely imbalanced, meaning they are unstable and doomed to fail, eventually.
I cannot imagine that those in power, who have worked so hard for so long to create the system we have – they have – today, will experience an awakening and decide to change course on their own. On the contrary, as the powers-that-be become increasingly desperate to sustain their unsustainable status quo, I expect the attacks on the populace to grow ever more brazen and treacherous; what was once unthinkable will become commonplace, the new normal.
Eventually, once the vast majority no longer has any incentive to participate in a failed system that no longer serves their interests, that system will totally collapse and wither away. What will replace the failed system is anybody’s guess and could actually be worse. For instance, instead of a single tyrannical president, in the aftermath of such a collapse the country may end up being ruled by numerous regional, petty, even more tyrannical warlords.
In addition to the mathematical certainty of the system collapsing for economic reasons alone, there are a couple of other reasons it might collapse. I think there are increasing indications that a second civil war is brewing and for similar reasons that produced the first civil war back in the 19th century. I can’t help but wonder if the recent panic buying of guns and ammunition in America is partly driven by a latent recognition of the possibility of such a civil war. There is also the looming possibility of another world war, which could leave the U.S. in utter disarray. For over a decade the U.S. has more or less been waging a world war all on its own, which has already devastated the government’s financial picture. Even if the U.S. does not suffer any direct attacks, which seems unlikely in the nuclear age, a world war involving the world’s most powerful countries could be the last straw for the country’s finances, leaving the country in shambles.
The three possible eventualities listed above are not mutually exclusive and could occur in any order or in any combination, in fact, one could precipitate another. For example, a visible economic collapse could trigger a civil or world war.
One thing people can be sure of: on our present course, there are no prospects for any sort of economic “recovery.”
True “Recovery” Will Occur When...
All the psychopaths are removed from positions of power. Without this prerequisite, any changes made will at best produce temporary improvements and over time conditions will regress again to where they are now, in painfully cyclical fashion. I’m not the least bit opposed to psychological testing of political candidates to ensure that they are not psychopaths. Better yet, we ought to select politicians the way we select jurors, by random selection. The last person we want serving as a politician is someone who covets the job!
Most of the one million laws on the books are erased. I’m not religious, but really, why do we need more than a handful of common sense laws, a “Ten Commandments” for the modern era? As Tacitus put it, “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” Most of the laws do not serve the interests of society. Most of the laws either profit a handful of constituents – those who paid to have the laws written – or enable the government to selectively prosecute anyone it chooses, for it can always find some obscure law that has been violated.
Taxes are sharply reduced. It’s common sense to a non-academic that money taken from people in the form of taxes is unavailable to be spent on consumption, on business expansion or put into savings. Although some argue that taxes collected by the government and spent produce some sort of magical “multiplier effect,” given the obscenely wasteful manner in which the government spends money, it’s hard to believe that the money is put to better use by the government than by the person from which it was taken.
Government is severely reduced, along with all of its business-crushing regulations. Reduced government would normally be an expected consequence of reduced taxes, but not in an era when government can seemingly issue infinite quantities of debt with financial impunity. As with the myriad laws, most government regulations are designed to help favored corporations and impede the competitive ability of non-favored entities. The government should revert to the minimalist design outlined in the Constitution, which includes the elimination of the central bank.
Citizens take the initiative to look after themselves again instead of relying on somebody else to do it for them. This country really was founded upon the premise of “rugged individualism,” as quaint as that sounds. People took pride in looking after themselves and in so doing, were able to help others when necessary. Of course, looking after one’s self goes hand in hand with minding one’s own business. By contrast, stealing other peoples’ money intuitively demands minding other peoples’ business, something we Americans get better at with each passing year. Taking responsibility for one’s destiny involves also taking control of one’s employment. In this day and age of automated manufacturing and job outsourcing, people cannot continue to rely on someone else to employ them. People must invent their own occupations and find a way to support themselves, which is what people did hundreds of years ago. Such a recommendation meshes well with the reduced standard of living and resource shortages that are on the horizon. As people return to productive activity, including small scale manufacturing, a revitalization of our industrial base, albeit in a grassroots fashion, is possible, bringing with it the wealth generating effects of such activity, not to mention the soul-lifting benefits of being in control of one’s destiny.
If recent history is any indication, the changes summarized above will not be made voluntarily, but only out of abject necessity, such as after the whole system collapses into a steaming pile of rot and decay. Then, like the phoenix, a rebirth will be possible, assuming the people are willing to put in the effort. Reversing the many deleterious trends will take at least as long as it took to establish them, meaning generations. Those that have the fortitude to take responsibility for their lives and apply themselves will survive; those that have grown fat and lazy while someone else provides their food stamps, cell phones, unemployment benefits, housing assistance and health care will likely not survive.