Crisis and Opportunity (February 1, 2013)
That which is unsustainable will pass away and be replaced with a more sustainable arrangement. That is the crisis and the opportunity.
"Never let a crisis go to waste" need not be the exclusive agenda of the Power Elite/ parasitic Aristocracy: it could be the agenda for the rest of us, i.e. the debt-serfs. If you are unfamiliar with the neofeudal/neocolonial financialization model, please read The E.U., Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model (May 24, 2012). The same dynamics apply to the American Empire and domestic economy.
The Eurozone's Three Fatal Flaws (September 21, 2011)
My definition of Neoliberal Capitalism differs significantly from the conventional view: markets are opened specifically to benefit the Central State and global corporations, and risk is masked by financialization and then ultimately passed onto the taxpayers. In this view, the essence of Neoliberal Capitalism is: profits are privatized but losses are socialized, i.e. passed on to the taxpayers via bailouts, sweetheart loans, State guarantees, the monetization of private losses as newly issued public debt, etc.
Before we begin, please glance at the following six charts: To cut to the heart of the matter, always ask: cui bono--to whose benefit? The charts reveal the answer.
1. Federal debt (skyrocketing as a result of monumental deficit spending funded by debt);
2. labor's share of the nonfarm business sector (collapsing);
3. GDP (rising modestly on the back of Federal Reserve money creation and monetization of Federal borrowing);
4. financial profits per employed person in the U.S. (exponential rise, interrupted by that spot of bother in 2008 that the Fed fixed with QE1-4);
5. output per person (i.e. productivity per worker, rising steadily)
6. real (adjusted) household income (tanking, depsite trillions of dollars created and borrowed by the Central State and Bank)
Can you say "exponential" and "unsustainable"?
Off a cliff, even as productivity has risen smartly:
Here is GDP, expanding on the back of Federal borrow-and-blow deficit spending:
Gee, the financial Aristocracy seems to be skimming all the productivity gains; they certainly aren't flowing to the wage earners:
Productivity per worker keeps increasing--where is the net going?
Not to the wage earner households:
As I have endeavored to explain this week, this financialization of the economy is the direct result of Federal Reserve and Federal government policies. The fact that gains in productivity are not flowing to wage earners is not some mysterious warp of space-time--it is the direct consequence of the Fed's financialization of the economy, supported by the political Elites of Federal government.
In the neofeudal, neocolonial model, speculation by the parasitic Aristocracy is backstopped by the taxpayers--the perfection of moral hazard.
Future taxpayers are burdened with crushing mountains of debt taken on to fund corrupt state fiefdoms and politically sacrosanct cartels and constituencies.
Debt (that profits the parasitic financial Aristocracy) is heavily incentivized while saving capital (cash) is punished with negative yields.
There are no financial limits on State borrowing and spending when the Federal Reserve is monetizing Treasury debt. The Federal government is thus free to borrow and squander trillions of dollars supporting cartels (sickcare, national security, war-on-drugs gulags, higher education, etc.) and pass the interest costs on to taxpayers, present and future.
There are also no limits on the skim of the financial Aristocracy when the Fed gives them unlimited 0% money, backstops their gambling and destroys the incentives to accumulate cash capital and invest it productively rather than speculatively.
This is the essence of the neocolonial model: make money cheap, reward consumption and speculation in asset bubbles and draw once-prudent citizens into debt-serfdom. Those not ready for big-mortgage serfdom are snared with the $100,000 student loan skim.
This is the same mechanism used to stripmine colonies with financialization: no coercion necessary. "They did it to themselves."
This neocolonial model leads to neofeudalism: Oops, the asset bubble burst, so your (phantom) wealth has vanished, but you still owe us the debt. Funny how that works.
In an economy based on debt, servicing that debt absorbs much of the income. So you need to borrow more to get by.
Since labor is in surplus, you need multiple university degrees to hope to get a high-paying job. (After taxes and debt service, the "high-paying" part is revealed as illusory--but by all means, please pursue the high-debt, high-consumption American Dream--you're enriching the parasitic Elites immensely.)
Each degree will rack up $100,000 in debt, and if you can't get a job, then the "solution" is another degree--oh, and of course, another hundred thou in debt.
There are no limits on Central State and financial Aristocracy exploitation, but there are limits on what debt-serfs can pay. Since we can't print money, there are limits for us debt-serfs. There are also limits on how much we can extract from a neocolonial/neofeudal system as wages (see above charts).
This neocolonial/neofeudal financialization model will implode under its own weight, and that will be the crisis. The opportunity will be to renounce all the unpayable debt and resolve to establish a radically lower-cost way of life that doesn't need "high incomes" for a fulfilling, prosperous life.
Such a way of life is based not on an extractive, expansive State or its partner, the exploitative parasitic Aristocracy, but on the forgotten third foundation of the economy, the community.
I cover this in my books Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It and Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change.
There are no apolitical “personal choice” acts; there are only profoundly political acts of resistance or complicity. (pages 205-6)
That which is unsustainable will pass away and be replaced with a more sustainable
arrangement. That is the crisis and the opportunity.
Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify or understand. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:
1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism and the elimination of accountability
3. Diminishing returns
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy
Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).
We are not powerless. Not accepting responsibility and being powerless are two sides of
the same coin: once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.
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