Abandon Main Street

Not so long ago a friend posted a video of a Randian fellow bloviating about trouble in America. How moving. His haughty theme could be summarized as: “A healthy civilization, is where you work hard and things just get better.” His counter melody might have been: “The problem is most folk are just lazy.” What a prick.

That things are not improving economically in the U.S., is but a logical progression of the current American model of consumer Capitalism, which took off like a cat-on-fire after WWII. Steady market growth and capital expenditure requires an expanding body of buyers and unending purchase, in order build wealth for the merchant class. But how many TVs, microwaves and treadmills does any one household really need? Big business moved jobs creating these goods to India, Pakistan, Indonesia and China, which helped sustain U.S. growth initially, by lowering the cost to own this junk while maximizing profits; but in the long run, this self-serving off shore move exasperated the problem of necessary demand; shrinking the pool of warm bodies able to afford this stuff.

As growth tapered off at the end of the 20th century, consumerism extended its casino-like run of success by removing the barriers to obtaining credit. That is, folks who once could not afford to buy the crap advertised by commercial media channels, now had the approval of the financial class to dig themselves into deep, deep debt. Wallow in debt, they were told. Worry about today. Forget about tomorrow. It is an advertising mantra which feeds on itself. This pedal-to-the-metal philosophy produced sky-rocketing real-estate prices at the beginning of the 21st century and left a glut of unsold homes in its wake, while appraisal values rocketed beyond the range of most buyers.

The housing bubble which burst near the end of the reign of the first MBA President of the United States, George W Bush, was the flashpoint emphasizing the trouble with gratuitous spending and the supply-side model of macroeconomics. The little man glimpsed behind the curtain, pushing paper profits, became the poster boy for a pyramid scheme of rampant consumerism. An unregulated marketplace will race toward a vanishing point where few remaining suckers have the means to purchase enough product to sustain supply-side growth and produce a rising curve of good times. The young Occupy Wall Street picketers haven’t yet been fully assimilated into this consumer mold. They are not completely addicted to burning money they don’t yet have to spend. Living on mommy and daddies bucks, provides a valuable perspective, illuminating the faults with our current consumer model. These young adults are unprepared financially to live just for the day, as the paradigm demands.

Recent attempts to reduce tax liability on the upper crust, is but the latest political effort to sell an unbalanced economic program to a democratic society. This scheme insists on a reduction in wealth among the working class, while bolstering the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous. Truly it is the beginning of the end in the run up to the next socioeconomic revolution. A preface to a turmoil which will lead to a post communistic-capitalistic society — whatever that may look like. What it won’t attend is an unsustainable consumer model, in a globally warming environment.

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One Response to “Unsustainable”

  1. Mariano says:

    You are right, Jeff. What’s more, these are not just superficial issues of existence. Such is the growing power of the wealth-upon-wealth class that what Camus warned us about is there for us to encounter daily. Said he: “If someone takes away your bread, he suppresses your freedom at the same time. But if someone seizes your freedom, rest assured, your bread is threatened, because it no longer depends on you and on your struggle, but on the pleasure of a master.”

    The disdain for the middle class, the hatred of unions, the spreading talk about the poor deserving their poverty, all comprise the roster of buttons of power. The upper crust will not cede, will not concede, and is in command of how and when the lower classes will work, what bread and when they will eat.

    That is the planned suppression of freedom that is currently in place.

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