Of Economics and Entitlements

First they came for Indigenous Peoples, and I said nothing because I wanted their land.

Then they came for People of Color, and I said nothing because I didn’t ever see those people in my neighborhood.

Then they came for Immigrants & Refugees, and I said nothing because my family came over here the right way.

Then they came for me, and by then it was too late to put up a fight, not because there was no one left, but because by that time the Economic Masters and their Political Servants had taken nearly all the resources and wealth.

Pastor-Martin-Niemoller

Far be it from me to rip off the good Pastor without offering up the gift of image macro sacrifice in his name. We have to explain everything around here to you people. Probably raised in a barn, along with the other primitives.

To the point, then.

So, we had a debate about what to call this. Publius wanted to call this Economics 101, but Publius said it should be Economics 1001. Then Publius correctly noted that calling it either would have meant that you fuckin mooks had a passing understanding of what was going on. Since you’re here, you obviously like a little bit of abuse so we will do our collective best to insult you while we educate you. Publius wins. It is known.

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Told ya.

We settled on calling it Economics 1. Because studies have shown that people respond in certain ways to certain numbers. Odd numbers are thought of as masculine and Even numbers as feminine. In an individualistic society, those odd numbers will dominate on purpose (and in collectivist societies, even numbers do better). Since I’m talking to mostly Americans, we’re calling it Economics 1 because you nonsensical, silly wimps have a hard-on for the Clint Eastwood types.

Also, we’re saying “Economics 1” because you’re as stupid as we are repetitious. Then we added the Entitlements because you need to have both together to have a notion of how a hybrid economy like ours works.

But first, the math!

Consider the following:

Jobs” as 1) the single greatest opportunity for individual wealth creation that most Americans (or human beings) have; and 2) the “Jobs Clause” in the American Dream as the hinge on which we prosper. That formula then, is:

Go School + Get Job + Find Significant Other + Buy House, Settle Down

So what happens when access to that opportunity (and the Jobs Clause itself) is attacked? Take a step back. What happens if that access is even placed under duress?

Keep in mind, that “placed under duress” affects hundreds of millions of people.

What happens is you find yourself in ‘Murica, circa 2008.

There are other economic stories to be told. Redlining. Manifest Destiny. Colonialism. All the horrific oppression, dispossession, disenfranchisement and persecution that came along with them. I don’t have all day to keep people’s attention here, but hope that the Economics 1 will satisfy. We’ll return to the other topics. You have our word as a random pseudonymous bloggers Websters. Also, today we coined a word. We’re now known not as bloggers, but as Websters, because it’s the Web and we can do that

In ‘Murica, circa 2008, things are starting to get a little more wild than usual. Wars on two fronts and a tax vacation have really changed the economic backdrop. The tax vacation combined with no-bid defense contracts meant that we were putting the cost of those wars on the credit card, which created an immediate $6 trillion in debt in around eight years where there had previously been a surplus.

And, but can you believe it, a black man who is not Alan Keyes is running for President (oh wait, he’s there too…)! A new political movement that’s totally about non-taxation and not-at-all about racism stands up, takes its sidearms, assault rifles plinkers and anti-material rifles to rallies and says they like tea. They’re Taxed Enough Already, you understand.

tea

Pictured: Very “serious” people. Also acceptable: Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?

We have to first examine where we actually are in order to appropriately forecast where we may go. To do this, we must reflect upon our path so far.

The National Bureau of Economic Research released a study in 2011 that told us where we are, and realistically, it’s a very poor place. Despite the fact that Fox News can broadcast The Donald’s “BIG NEWS” about the economy over the lamentations of our poor people, that doesn’t change the reality of the situation, which is going from bad to very bad.

Someday soon it will be real fuckin ugly bad, which is one step between tripleminusbad and “Next Up To The Guillotines!” Bad.

The latter is our favorite, btw.

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Did you know that home hobbyists, DIYers and revolutionaries can create their own mini-guillotines right at home? And, that you can just carry them around to places when you just absolutely, positively have to send a fuckin message, like right now.

See, income inequality is at its worst levels in modern history in the U.S., itself the wealthiest nation that’s ever existed. Economic class mobility is at an all-time low. Real wages have stagnated since the 1970s. Household debt has increased even as more households faced bankruptcy and evictions than ever and THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH. More Americans are working multiple jobs than ever, and, oh yeah, 50% of them 60% of them can’t come up with $2,000 in case of an emergency.

The situation doesn’t get any brighter when you add to that the notion that as far as our taxes are concerned, most Americans are actively subsidizing corporations and the ultra wealthy (warning: PDF auto-download), even as those very same people agitate to have their tax rates lowered more and social safety nets for the rest of us dismembered and destroyed.

But Publius, you whinge, didn’t you start off talking about minority demographics?

Sure did, hot shot. As with all things, this was done on purpose, as was the disenfranchisement and dispossession of those peoples listed in the intro.

See, America loves to create “others” or “out groups.” Other nations and societies do it as well and have been since well before Jesus of Nazareth came down and got crucified for saying “Be kind to each other,” but America perfected that shit. In creating these groups, it effectively creates bogeymen that mainstream (read: white) society can look down on. LBJ summed that shit up nicely. And by nicely we mean in a horrifically-accurate fashion.

fark_UHTlXFAkrSsZ1BUVNPOU-3guM9U

Right before he close-talked someone or left the door open while he was taking a dump. Ahhh, statesmanship. Or is that statesmanshit?

See, the systemic dispossession and disenfranchisement of Indigenous Peoples, Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders, the LGBTQIA+ community, et al, meant putting that type of radically-bad economic policy in practice effectively stole generational wealth from entire peoples and shifted it to…

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Motherfuckers named Todd.

And, after four centuries of perfecting that practice, the Economic Masters were more than ready to turn upon the laborers and professionals who’d helped them advance that type of predatory policy in the first place…

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A pattern emerges.

Ironically, the number for this post is somehow, inexplicably “666”. Imma take that as a sign from Our Dark Lord Satan to continue the Lord’s work here and now. Todds be damned. And you know they are.

Just like the Indigenous Peoples who’d helped the Colonists and Revolutionaries, just like the Jews who helped the Nazis, and just like the Blacks who help the Republicans, the Whites started to get the feeling that something was amiss when the Economic Masters stopped returning their calls.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, white fragility and toxic masculinity is an ugly fuckin combination, and leads to shit like this:

white entitlement

Pictured: “Economic Anxiety”

Unfortunately, they have no more self-awareness than a dog licking its own asshole.

So, instead of railing against the people who are actively stealing from them now as they’ve stolen from all the previous “out groups,” many modern American political (white) groups end up saying silly things like “Taxes are bad so let’s kill entitlement programs,” without realizing it’s those same entitlement programs that are keeping them on life support.

Literal life support. Look at this fuckin’ graph.

We’ve already told you jabroneys that the top 1% of the top 1% is already owns 50% of everything and is taking home 80% of the gains.

See, the Economic Masters have convinced the Tea Partiers, Libertarians and other ignorant primitives (but we repeat ourselves) that taxes are what’s strangling you, not the fact that wages have stagnated for 50 years while costs have gone up, Up, UP!

We’re just going to straight-up give this next one up to FARK.com, in which we saw this in an economics thread or taxation thread or UBI thread and we fuckin stole it outright. Like the Economic Masters would have wanted. We can’t remember who the fuck posted it, but we probably favorited them in the finest shade of Orange or Blue or Green. Not like the Piss Yellow or Russian Red we reserve for the trolls Drew’s friends. In the unlikely event that you, unknown Farker, wrote this following summary and happen to find it here, reach out. Upon confirmation we will attribute properly to your fake-ass pseudonym.

We fake-ass pseudonyms have to stick together. Respect.

You work at ABC Factory. You make 100 widgets a day and the company sells then for $10 more than the cost of raw materials apiece. Thus, every day, your labor is generating $1,000 of value.

The company pays you a generous $15/hour for your work. This means, at the end of an 8-hour workday, you have made $120. After taxes are factored in, you go home with $90.

The lobbyists for that company then tell you that the $30 the government takes from your paycheck amounts to theft and is the reason that you’re poor, but the $880 the company withholds from you to pass on to shareholders is the price of doing business.

So what’s a society to do? Absent of the Jobs Creators (TM) (PEACE BE UPON THEM) offering real-world wage increases that kept up with productivity, we as a society should embrace the New Deals of its past and push further into the future. Some universal programs, one being the dreaded-by-the-conservative-right Universal Basic Income.

Or, as Cold Warriors would have you believe, “COMMUNISMS! SOCIALISMS!”

In few cases, they’d be right. In most cases, they’d be wrong.

First, the lone real-world criticism, like when the OECD ran a specific model and found that maybe, under certain conditions, UBI would make poverty worse. Then you have the politically fantastic (read: fantasy) criticisms, like any and all social welfare will make its recipients dependent upon it.

Which doesn’t quite work out when you understand the economy past zero. That’s all of us here ever since we’re taking you on a ride toward Economics 1.

Ultimately, it will come down to whether or not the have-nots takes the money you got on you and calls it even.

Sadly, real life strays from our Walter versus the Nihilists storyline here. In real life, when systems have reached unsustainability, they’ve crashed. We can’t move too much further toward that outcome in America before something similar happens here, so it very much is a choice our society makes among 1) Force business/industry to increase wages/benefits to match productivity, which we know there is enough funding to do by virtue of being able to see the financial reports of publicly-traded companies and analyzing them against a backdrop of state tax revenue; 2) Tax the rich to fund infrastructure & jobs programs and education in the short term and institute a longer-term UBI in advance of a jobless future due to automation; 3) Continuation of the class war; or 4) Guillotines.

We say “Continuation” because our wealth has been redistributed to the top so many times that now it’s just commonplace to accept it. When the legal transactions weren’t enough to satisfy Mammon, Economic Masters demanded bailouts and no-bid contracts worth billions, and in the aggregate, trillions. That came outta your entitlements and your children’s futures, citizens.

Wouldn’t it be dandy if someone on the conservative side of things offered up a review of how UBI would work. I wonder if that exists. Oh wait, you mean this one, from Forbes Magazine?!

Better yet, UBI would be the rising tide that lifts all ships, and clear out the need for other types of welfare. A starting number of $1,000 per person in every house per month would be pretty goddamned ridiculous jump for some impoverished families. Check out this graph from World Economic Forum, it’s as beautiful as it is inspiring. Corresponding article here.

ubi

Once upon a time, noted rascal Benjamin Franklin offered some insight on making sure that people had enough. It went a little something like this:

“All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages [sic]. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”

The keys then, and the conclusive notes here, are for government budgeting not to cut entitlements, but to cut the need for them. Historically, increased entitlement spending has followed wage stagnation, increased inflation and increased cost of living. So it only follows, again, that if you reverse wage stagnation, and decrease inflation (good luck with cost of living) then people will have less of a need for entitlement programs.

Sound familiar?

Capitalism, like democracy, isn’t perfect but it’s the best we’ve got… so far. That means that we can continually improve upon it for our future selves and future generations. In Capitalism’s case, that means increased regulatory roles for banking/finance/insurance and strengthened entitlements for individuals, not for corporations.

And we can do that on behalf of everyone here in America, to start finally moving toward the future of equitability for everyone where we all start off closer to the exact same starting line. And don’t give us that shit about “being idealistic,” that’s what dreams are for, and if we don’t try to turn dreams into action we might as well give up our futures to the 1% today.

Brother, that ain’t gonna be me.

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