For most Americans, 2020 was disastrous for their safety, well-being and future.
Unprecedented numbers of people lost jobs — a greater percent of working-age Americans than in the 1930s Great Depression.
Millions more became way underemployed earning poverty wages with few or no benefits — struggling daily to survive.
Well over 100,000 small businesses went bankrupt or otherwise shut down permanently because of draconian lockdowns, quarantines and related policies.
According to Gallup survey data, “Americans’ mental health ratings s(ank) to a new low” in 2020— with no end to mass-misery in prospect.
Chicago’s Water Tower Place is the city’s preeminent downtown shopping mall along its Magnificent Mile.
Its survival is threatened by lack of enough retail traffic.
A city news report said there’s “real anxiety that Chicago’s main shopping districts — the Magnificent Mile and Gold Coast — are (at risk) of falling apart” for lack of enough revenue to keep operating.
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association said “economic fallout” from what’s going on “made it difficult for businesses to keep up with high downtown rents.”
What’s true about Chicago’s retail environment applies to the US nationwide — with no end of it in prospect looking ahead.
According to the National Restaurant Association, up to half of the nation’s restaurants may close permanently if the current environment continues or worsens — millions of jobs to be lost with them.
Looking ahead in the new year, is unprecedented food insecurity, hunger, malnutrition, untreated illnesses, and homelessness coming in the weeks and months ahead?
While Congress and the Wall Street owned and controlled Fed throw trillions of dollars of free money at the nation’s privileged class, most US households never endured harder than ever hard times than now.
They’re worsening, not improving, because of indifference in high places toward the nation’s most disadvantaged that are exploding in numbers of affected millions of people — the US middle class disappearing in plain sight.
Everything going on — the Greatest Main Street Depression in US history — was planned by US dark forces in cahoots with monied interests.
It’s all about benefitting them exclusively by exploiting most others.
It includes creating an unprecedented in size permanent underclass.
Longer-term, the diabolical scheme aims to create a ruler-serf society, harming the vast majority of Americans.
Seasonal flu/influenza — disguised as covid — has been and continues to be the phony pretext for getting Americans to go along with what no one should tolerate.
Their fundamental freedoms may be permanently lost so privileged interests can more greatly benefit from their misery.
Providing $600 stimulus checks to qualified households pales in comparison to open-checkbook handouts to Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and the already super-rich.
The paltry amount mocks growing poverty and deprivation that’s highly likely to worsen in the new year.
The US is not only unsafe and unfit to live in, it’s permanently thirdworldized.
It’s a totalitarian/plutocratic banana republic in the Northern Hemisphere — the world’s largest and most threatening to everyone everywhere.
On New Year’s Day, establishment media maintained their mass deception drumbeat.
According to NYT fake news, “in 2021 things will start getting better (sic).”
“And there’s good reason to believe that once the good news starts, the improvement in our condition will be much faster and continue much longer than many people expect (sic).”
The Washington Post pretended that “the big story of 2021 could be a very hopeful one (sic).”
Like other establishment media, it’s pushing the myth of mass-vaxxing to the rescue — ignoring how experimental covid vaccines may cause irreparable harm to human health overall, along with risking the illness they’re supposed to protect against but won’t.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “(t)he great comeback of 2021 is surely coming (sic).”
“(I)t will begin to explode in late spring, with vaccines more available and a spreading sense that things are easing off, and be fully anarchic by summer (sic).”
The above disinformation ignores the reality of unprecedented/made-in-the USA misery that’s highly likely to worsen ahead and become permanent for most Americans.
I see nothing to be optimistic about in the new year and what follows.
The only solution is popular revolution. Nothing else can prevent state-sponsored dystopia that’s well underway.
It’ll worsen without mass outrage and rebellion against the diabolical system.
It’s our lives, our well-being, our future, and our choice to accept the unacceptable or rise up against it.
The 2016 Oxfam Davos Report which the mass media have ignored arrestingly shows that 62 individuals – 388 in 2010 – now own more wealth than 50% of the world’s population. More shockingly, it reports from its uncontested public sources that this share of wealth by half of the world’s people has collapsed by over 40% in just the last five years.
Yet the big lies persist even here that “the progress has been made in tackling world poverty” and “extreme poverty has been halved since 1990”.
Reversing Undeniable Fact as Ultimate Justification
Unbelievably, the endlessly repeated assertion of the form that ‘the poor are being lifted out of poverty in ever greater numbers’ continues on untouched despite the hard evidence that, in fact, the poorer half of humanity has lost almost half of their wealth in just the last five years.
This big lie is significant in its implications. For not only is a pervasive claim about the success of globalization undeniably falsified while no-one notices it. Basic market theory and dogma collapses as a result. What is daily claimed as an infallible benefit of the global market is shown to be the opposite of reality. What does it mean for “trickle-down theory” when, in truth, the trickle down goes up in hundreds of billions of dollars to the rich from the already poor and destitute?
What can we say now of the tirelessly proclaimed doctrine that the global market brings “more wealth for all” when, in fact, unimpeachable business evidence shows the opposite reality on the ground and across the world. For the poor have undeniably lost almost half their share of global wealth while the richest have multiplied theirs at the same time.
The evidence proves, in short, that the main moral and economic claims justifying the global market are very big lies becoming bigger all the time.
Worse than delusional, the lived reality of impoverishment of billions of people is reversed, the victims are continually proclaimed to be doing better under the system that increasingly deprives them of what little they have, and a trillion dollars worth of loss to the poorer half of humanity ends up in the pockets of the rich within only five years.
While the ever bigger lies go on justifying the global system that eats the poor alive as “poverty amelioration”, ever more of the same policies of accumulation by dispossession justify still more stripping of the majority as more “austerity”, more “welfare cuts”, and more “labor flexibility” – in a word, more starvation and depredation of people’s lives and life conditions as “more freedom and prosperity for all”.
The Statistical Shell Game that Masks the Life-Devouring Reality
As World Bank, IMF and like figures claim to show the uplifting of the poor out of poverty across the world, media of record like The Guardian and the New York Times report the claims with headlines to show all is well and getter for the poor and the majority as they are in fact grindingly reduced in their actual lives, work and life security. Thus the very big lies are instituted as given facts which economists and social scientists propagate without a blink.
In fact, these alleged great gains for the poor out of poverty and absolute poverty alike are based on income gains of less than a cup of coffee a day, an observation that is so well blocked from view that readers may now be seeing it for the first time. Thus the hypnotic thrall of the big lies are sustained, while no other life support system is. I have had economists and interviewers of high note respond angrily when this delusion is pointed out, as if I was letting down the poor rather than exposing the big lies. In this way, we find that the masking falsehoods have gone so deep into expert and public assumption that the real-life world can no longer be engaged. These big lies then work in the background to the non-stop big lies that precede endless foreign conflicts and wars to “defend the free world”
No-one appears to observe that the income gains ’lifting the poor out of poverty’ typically refer to emigrants from the countryside into polluted cities, insecure and dehumanized life conditions for those who formerly had at least a family dwelling, clean air and water and living horizons. In short, the standard $1.50 +/- measure of uplift out of poverty and extreme poverty is inhumanly absurd, but triumphally used as proof that the system is serving the least too.
The Counter-Revolution against Social Evolution that Engineers Deepening Recession
Throughout the unseen redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich (now buried in much talk of “inequality”), ever more “market reforms” are enforced as “enhanced competition”, “liberalized de-regulation”, “reduced welfare costs” and “austerity programs to correct excesses”. The “excessive entitlements” of the system are all projected on the victims so that the truly insane entitlements of the richest to multiply their fortunes with no committed life function, value or coordinate but still more money-demand for them is somehow not noticed. This is yet another level of normalized big lies forming the ruling thought system.
In fact beneath the pervasive propaganda conditioning citizens to believe in the private money shell game devouring the world, the poorer half of humanity has been deprived of one trillion dollars of wealth while the 62 richest people have gained almost twice as much for themselves by the operations of this global disorder. Yet the Davos Report further emphasizes that still another US $760 billion goes annually to non-producing investors by immense transnational tax evasion with impunity across the world. Again the borderless money-capital freedom of ‘globalization’ vastly enriches the richest, while simultaneously doubling down on deprivation of the poor as ‘poverty reduction’.
Here the system is programmed in effect to strip the funding of all public sectors and institutions which have evolved to serve the common life interest. Public services and infrastructures too are perpetually driven towards bankruptcy not only by never-ending defunding, cutbacks, privatizations, and corporate lobby control of public policies and subsidies, but by ever-soaring public tax evasion near one trillion dollars annually about which governments and trade treaties have done nothing to correct yet.
Thus governments which could invest in sustaining humanity’s social and ecological life support systems from growing deterioration and collapse are now systematically bankrupted or debt enslaved along with most citizens. In consequence without governments knowing why, the world economy slips into ever deeper recession from the collapse of economic demand at the public and majority levels.
Eating the World Alive as Global Competition
The new law of human evolution is that are required to compete for more money and commodities for themselves as “necessary to survive”, with the borderless system de-regulated and structured to increasingly impoverish the great majority while multiplying the wealth of the rich. The facts are now long in. Corporate globalization is not only out of control. It is eating the world alive at all levels towards cumulative collapse of organic, social and ecological life organization. Global competition means, in fact, the majority’s life means and security keep falling as the environment is looted and polluted on ever larger scales of depredation. Yet only “more growth” of this system is imagined as a solution. The system is clinically insane
While the common life-ground is blinkered out a-priori by the ruling value system, those deprived and left behind disappear into multi-level big lies proclaiming the opposite. This is why the facts are not reported. This is why claimed actions to stop the world bleeding blinker out the system disorder causing them. This is why even progressives assume economic falsehoods as if they were true. Like a cancer system at the macro level, this exponentially multiplying private money-sequence system has only one set-point – to blindly grow itself while masking the life-devouring disorder as “enhancing people’s well-being”.
John McMurtry is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His work has been translated from Latin America through Europe to Japan, and he is the author/editor of UNESCO’s three-volume Philosophy and World Problems, as well as more recently, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism; From Crisis to Cure.
First published by Global Research on October 5, 2017
America has the greatest inequalities, highest mortality rate, most regressive taxes, and largest public subsidies for bankers and billionaires of any developed capitalist country.
In this essay we will discuss the socio-economic roots of inequalities and the relation between the concentration of wealth and the downward mobility of the working and salaried classes.
How the Billionaires become Billionaires
Contrary to the propaganda pushed by the business press, between 67% and 72% percent of corporations had zero tax liabilities after credits and exemptions … while their workers and employees paid between 25 – 30% in taxes. The rate for the minority of corporations, which paid any tax, was 14%.
According to the US Internal Revenue Service, billionaire tax evasion amounts to $458 billion dollars in lost public revenues every year – almost a trillion dollars every two years by this conservative estimate.
The largest US corporations sheltered over $2.5 trillion dollars in overseas tax havens where they paid no taxes or single digit tax rates.
Meanwhile US corporations in crisis received over $14.4 trillion dollars (Bloomberg claimed 12.8 trillion) in public bailout money, split between the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve, mostly from US tax payers, who are overwhelmingly workers, employees and pensioners.
The recipient bankers invested their interest-free or low interest US bailout funds and earned billions in profits, most resulting from mortgage foreclosures of working class households.
Through favorable legal rulings and illegal foreclosures, the bankers evicted 9.3 million families. Over 20 million individuals lost their properties, often due to illegal or fraudulent debts.
A small number of the financial swindlers, including executives from Wall Street’s leading banks (Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan etc), paid fines – but no one went to prison for the gargantuan fraud that drove millions of Americans into misery.
There are other swindler bankers, like the current Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, who enriched themselves by illegally foreclosing on thousands of homeowners in California. Some were tried; all were exonerated, thanks to the influence of Democratic political leaders during the Obama years.
Silicon Valley and its innovative billionaires have found novel way to avoid taxes using overseas tax havens and domestic tax write-offs. They increase their wealth and corporate profits by paying their local manual and service workers poverty level wages. Silicon Valley executives ‘earn’ a thousand times more than their production workers..
Class inequalities are further reinforced by ethnic divisions. White, Chinese and Indian multi-millionaires exploit Afro-American, Latin American, Vietnamese and Filipino workers.
Billionaires in the commercial conglomerates, like Walmart, exploit workers by paying poverty wages and providing few, if any, benefits. Walmart earns $16 billion dollar a year in profits by paying its workers between $10 and $13 an hour and relying on state and federal assistance to provide services to the families of its impoverished workers through Medicaid and food stamps. Amazon plutocrat Jeff Bezos exploits workers by paying $12.50 an hour while he has accumulated over $80 billion dollars in profits. UPS CEO David Albany takes $11 million a year by exploiting workers at $11 an hour. Federal Express CEO, Fred Smith gets $16 million and pays workers $11 an hour.
Inequality is not a result of ‘technology’ and ‘education’- contemporary euphemisms for the ruling class cult of superiority – as liberals and conservative economists and journalists like to claim. Inequalities are a result of low wages, based on big profits, financial swindles, multi-trillion dollar public handouts and multi-billion-dollar tax evasion. The ruling class has mastered the ‘technology’ of exploiting the state, through its pillage of the treasury, and the working class. Capitalist exploitation of low paid production workers provides additional billions for the ‘philanthropic’ billionaire family foundations to polish their public image – using another tax avoidance gimmick – self-glorifying ‘donations’.
Workers pay disproportional taxes for education, health, social and public services and subsidies for billionaires.
Billionaires in the arms industry and security/mercenary conglomerates receive over $700 billion dollars from the federal budget, while over 100 million US workers lack adequate health care and their children are warehoused in deteriorating schools.
Workers and Bosses: Mortality Rates
Billionaires and multi-millionaires and their families enjoy longer and healthier lives than their workers. They have no need for health insurance policies or public hospitals. CEO’s live on average ten years longer than a worker and enjoy twenty years more of healthy and pain-free lives.
Private, exclusive clinics and top medical care include the most advanced treatment and safe and proven medication which allow billionaires and their family members to live longer and healthier lives. The quality of their medical care and the qualifications of their medical providers present a stark contrast to the health care apartheid that characterizes the rest of the United States.
Workers are treated and mistreated by the health system: They have inadequate and often incompetent medical treatment, cursory examinations by inexperienced medical assistants and end up victims of the widespread over-prescription of highly addictive narcotics and other medications. Over-prescription of narcotics by incompetent ‘providers’ has significantly contributed to the rise in premature deaths among workers, spiraling cases of opiate overdose, disability due to addiction and descent into poverty and homelessness. These irresponsible practices have made additional billions of dollars in profits for the insurance corporate elite, who can cut their pensions and health care liabilities as injured, disabled and addicted workers drop out of the system or die.
The shortened life expectancy for workers and their family members is celebrated on Wall Street and in the financial press. Over 560,000 workers were killed by opioids between 1999-2015 contributing to the decline in life expectancy for working age wage and salary earners and reduced pension liabilities for Wall Street and the Social Security Administration.
Inequalities are cumulative, inter-generational and multi-sectorial.
Billionaire families, their children and grandchildren, inherit and invest billions. They have privileged access to the most prestigious schools and medical facilities, and conveniently fall in love to equally privileged, well-connected mates to join their fortunes and form even greater financial empires. Their wealth buys favorable, even fawning, mass media coverage and the services of the most influential lawyers and accountants to cover their swindles and tax evasion.
Billionaires hire innovators and sweat shop MBA managers to devise more ways to slash wages, increase productivity and ensure that inequalities widen even further. Billionaires do not have to be the brightest or most innovative people: Such individuals can simply be bought or imported on the ‘free market’ and discarded at will.
Billionaires have bought out or formed joint ventures with each other, creating interlocking directorates. Banks, IT, factories, warehouses, food and appliance, pharmaceuticals and hospitals are linked directly to political elites who slither through doors of rotating appointments within the IMF, the World Bank, Treasury, Wall Street banks and prestigious law firms.
Consequences of Inequalities
First and foremost, billionaires and their political, legal and corporate associates dominate the political parties. They designate the leaders and key appointees, thus ensuring that budgets and policies will increase their profits, erode social benefits for the masses and weaken the political power of popular organizations.
Secondly, the burden of the economic crisis is shifted on to the workers who are fired and later re-hired as part-time, contingent labor. Public bailouts, provided by the taxpayer, are channeled to the billionaires under the doctrine that Wall Street banks are too big to fail and workers are too weak to defend their wages, jobs and living standards.
Billionaires buy political elites, who appoint the World Bank and IMF officials tasked with instituting policies to freeze or reduce wages, slash corporate and public health care obligations and increase profits by privatizing public enterprises and facilitating corporate relocation to low wage, low tax countries.
As a result, wage and salary workers are less organized and less influential; they work longer and for less pay, suffer greater workplace insecurity and injuries – physical and mental – fall into decline and disability, drop out of the system, die earlier and poorer, and, in the process, provide unimaginable profits for the billionaire class. Even their addiction and deaths provide opportunities for huge profit – as the Sackler Family, manufacturers of Oxycontin, can attest.
The billionaires and their political acolytes argue that deeper regressive taxation would increase investments and jobs. The data speaks otherwise. The bulk of repatriated profits are directed to buy back stock to increase dividends for investors; they are not invested in the productive economy. Lower taxes and greater profits for conglomerates means more buy-outs and greater outflows to low wage countries. In real terms taxes are already less than half the headline rate and are a major factor heightening the concentration of income and power – both cause and effect.
Corporate elites, the billionaires in the Silicon Valley-Wall Street global complex are relatively satisfied that their cherished inequalities are guaranteed and expanding under the Demo-Republican Presidents- as the ‘good times’ roll on.
Away from the ‘billionaire elite’, the ‘outsiders’ – domestic capitalists – clamor for greater public investment in infrastructure to expand the domestic economy, lower taxes to increase profits, and state subsidies to increase the training of the labor force while reducing funds for health care and public education. They are oblivious to the contradiction.
In other words, the capitalist class as a whole, globalist and domestic alike, pursues the same regressive policies, promoting inequalities while struggling over shares of the profits.
One hundred and fifty million wage and salaried taxpayers are excluded from the political and social decisions that directly affect their income, employment, rates of taxation, and political representation.
They understand, or at least experience, how the class system works. Most workers know about the injustice of the fake ‘free trade’ agreements and regressive tax regime, which weighs heavy on the majority of wage and salary earners.
However, worker hostility and despair is directed against ‘immigrants’ and against the ‘liberals’ who have backed the import of cheap skilled and semi-skilled labor under the guise of ‘freedom’. This ‘politically correct’ image of imported labor covers up a policy, which has served to lower wages, benefits and living standards for American workers, whether they are in technology, construction or production. Rich conservatives, on the other hand, oppose immigration under the guise of ‘law and order’ and to lower social expenditures – despite that fact that they all use imported nannies, tutors, nurses, doctors and gardeners to service their families. Their servants can always be deported when convenient.
The pro and anti-immigrant issue avoids the root cause for the economic exploitation and social degradation of the working class – the billionaire owners operating in alliance with the political elite.
In order to reverse the regressive tax practices and tax evasion, the low wage cycle and the spiraling death rates resulting from narcotics and other preventable causes, which profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical billionaires, class alliances need to be forged linking workers, consumers, pensioners, students, the disabled, the foreclosed homeowners, evicted tenants, debtors, the under-employed and immigrants as a unified political force.
Sooner said than done, but never tried! Everything and everyone is at stake: life, health and happiness.