See if you can answer the following if / then statement without the help of a calculator, tape measure or quaaludes:
If inequality, then instability.
If instability, then _____ .
I assume everybody remembers “if / then” statements from middle school? One day your jaded teacher, who had clearly just had some sort of relationship issue, walked into the room and said, “Class, it works like this: IF Tom is a good-looking man, THEN he is a pedophile. …That will be on the exam, so write it down!”
It’s unclear whether learning if / then statements ever helped a single child later in life, especially when compared to the crucial life skills we were never taught in school, such as the manipulation tactics of unfettered consumerist cultures or how to hide your wallet in your shoe when having sex with an Olive Garden waitress you just met. (Our education system doesn’t create useful humans.)
It won’t shock you when I say the U.S. is home to an abundance of inequality and instability. The Dow Jones almost saw its worst December since the Great Depression. No one bought anything for the holidays from a company other than Amazon. Mom and Pop shops have nearly resorted to simply selling Mom and Pop. And worker wages are so stagnant they give Matt Lauer’s career a run for its money. Yet at the same time, the stock market sets new record highs almost every single year.
This is from Nomi Prins at TomDispatch:
“… [I]f you really want to grasp what’s been happening, consider that, between 2009 and 2017, the number of billionaires whose combined wealth was greater than that of the world’s poorest 50% fell from 380 to just eight.”
And in the U.S., it’s even worse. It’s three. Three dudes have the same wealth as the bottom 50% of everyone! Yet most Americans seem fine with it—at least in the sense that we’re only expressing our anger via strongly worded tweets rather than hurling flaming bottles filled with lighter fluid and urine.
Could you imagine how fucking angry people would be if this were about anything other than money? For some reason we expect the ultra-rich to have all of the money. If three guys had 50% of the nation’s iPhones or Siamese cats or York Peppermint Patties, we would lose our goddamn minds. Every casual conversation would include the following declarations: “Who the FUCK do they think they are? I want a York Peppermint Patty, and I don’t get one? But those three dick helmets have a pile the size of Rhode Island?! … I want some of that chocolatey, minty goodness.”
All of this is to say America boasts more inequality than LeBron James’ high school basketball team. (No one ever passed Danny Lipschitz the rock.)
Former bankrupt philandering con man and current President of the United States Donald Trump regularly brags about how low the nation’s unemployment numbers are. He does this for two reasons. One: He wants to win reelection to prove to everyone that he’s doing a great job at a job he doesn’t want nor cares to actually do. (He has never wanted to be president. He just wants others to know that he IS president. And that distinction matters a lot.) The second reason he brags about low unemployment numbers is because the unemployment numbers are very low. However, much like a sausage filled with sawdust, those numbers are packed with people who have stopped searching for work and others with shit jobs.
Not too long ago, Walmart was caught having a canned food drive for their own employees on Thanksgiving. If you work at Walmart and you can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner, that doesn’t mean customers need to donate some Spam. It means working at Walmart is less a job and more a partial enslavement opportunity. Think about that: Workers at one of the largest corporations in the world within one of the richest countries in the world can’t even afford to feed their families.
Amazon probably would have a food drive for their warehouse employees, except those workers aren’t allowed to stop to eat solid foods. Instead, Amazon patented a device that pumps nutrients into their workers rectally, at surprise intervals. You can choose to take the rectal nutrients in Power Bar form, but it’s truly uncomfortable. (I made this system up, but doesn’t it sound like something Amazon would do?)
Inequality.org has a chart that shows the top 0.1%’s share of total U.S. income over time. It’s peaking right now, and the previous peak on the chart happened just before the 2008 collapse. The only other peak occurred just before the Great Depression.
The top 400 U.S. earners have hugely increased how many millions they bring home every year. The top tier is still benefiting from that peak on the chart from just before the 2008 financial collapse … for which our Justice Department prosecuted nobody. They’re still looking for the guy who caused it. They’re gonna crack the case any minute. I picture our Department of Justice looking a lot like the college dorm room of the kid who dropped out to start a porn website. Not sure if that’s just me.
So what has caused this breathtaking level of inequality? There are several culprits. One is Bill Clinton’s gutting of the Glass-Steagall Act, which former opponent of desegregation and fervent Amtrak rider Joe Biden supported as well. Another is the Federal Reserve’s “quantitative easing,” which is basically a massive giveaway to Wall Street while the rest of us on Main Street stand there like idiots with our gonads in our hands! (Before you get offended that I’m implying women can’t be Main Street idiots, please recall that both men and women have gonads.) And yet another reason for the inequality we now see is the near obliteration of strong unions.
Also at Inequality.org, you can find a chart that lines up the percentage of income the top 10 percent take home as compared to union membership in America. When union membership goes down, the rich get a lot richer, because the workers have no power to stop the ruling elite from stealing everything. And right now, union membership is at a record low—about 10.7%.
If inequality, then instability.
Even the largest financial firms like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have stated the next financial crisis will happen by 2020.
But this level of inequality carries other ramifications. It causes people to protest and cast votes outside of the “normal” establishment candidates. This can produce great leaders looking to help decrease inequality, like Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K. or Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico. Or it can lead to fascistic, anti-immigrant, nationalist tendencies like it has in Italy, France, Brazil, (the United States) and elsewhere. Luckily the good ol’ US of A is there to fight the leftists and prop up the fascists!
In terms of the outwardly racist President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, The Wall Street Journal endorsed him during his run, and as Brazilian journalist Marcelo Zero wrote, “The CIA Has Its Fingerprints on Brazil’s Election.” Thanks to leaked documents, we now know the prosecution that kept left-wing candidate Lula da Silva out of office was a fraud. And while our government actively tries to destroy leftist presidents like Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, they partner with and fund neo-Nazi groups in the Ukraine.
(You know, the nice thing about partnering with neo-Nazi groups? When you stay at their house, they almost always have clean sheets for you. … There might be some holes in them, but it’s better than nothing.)
Truly left-wing leaders like Corbyn must be undermined by the ruling elite and the media those elite own. Outlets like the BBC and The Washington Post can’t get enough of claiming Corbyn is an anti-Semite by intentionally conflating criticism of Israel with criticism of Jewish people.
Of course, our own lefty Bernie Sanders was carefully undermined to make sure he lost the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. In case you forgot, the New York City Board of Elections admitted in court that it broke the law—purging 200,000 voters. Then what did we get instead of the democratic socialist? We got a racist nationalist.
So let’s go back to our if / thens:
If inequality, then instability.
If instability, then popular uprisings.
If popular uprisings, then either lefty leaders or neo-fascists.
This will all be on the exam, so write it down.