Two news items popped this week that highlight the ever-growing Neo-Feudalism that has become our new economy. First, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) filed a lawsuit against the City of New York and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Brookfield Office Properties and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are also defendants in the suit. The complaints of the suit are simple and well documented: the New York Police Department made false arrests, used excessive force and violated free speech rights of protesters and journalists. OWS is firing a salvo for America's bewildered serfs against their feudal lords. Secondly, Edward Conard, a former Romney lackey and entrenched member of the 0.1%, let us know that economic inequality was fine and dandy in his new book, Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong.
In an article in the New York Times Magazine published online Tuesday, titled "The Purpose of Spectacular Wealth, According to a Spectacularly Wealthy Guy," written by Adam Davidson, founder of NPR's Planet Money blog, Conard makes some ridiculous assertions. This from Davidson's article:
Conard understands that many believe that the U.S. economy currently serves the rich at the expense of everyone else. He contends that this is largely because most Americans don't know how the economy really works -- that the superrich spend only a small portion of their wealth on personal comforts; most of their money is invested in productive businesses that make life better for everyone. "Most citizens are consumers, not investors," he told me during one of our long, occasionally contentious conversations. "They don't recognize the benefits to consumers that come from investment."
Conard is making the typical 1% argument that they are creating jobs for the serfs, and that these lords of the manor need the government incentives, tax breaks, etc... they receive in order to benefit everybody. What Conard's strata are really creating is a wider gulf between the top 5% (lords) and the 95% (serfs) beneath them. How bad have things become?
The International Monetary Fund released a study on the growing debt divide. It shows that, basically what happened over the past 20 years or so, is that the lords' incomes have grown dramatically while the serfs' incomes have barely budged. With income gains that don't keep up with inflation, the serfs were forced to use credit to keep pace, and in turn, that has exacerbated the problem, triggering an unprecedented gap between the new feudal lords and their poor serfs. Ronald Reagan would be smiling if he wasn't dead as Dillinger, but I'm sure Arthur Laffer is celebrating enough for the both of them. Trickle-down economics as advertised!
This growing debt and income inequity coupled with the economic meltdown has turned the USA into a neo-feudal state. The Bush and Obama administrations chose to bail out the banks instead of bailing out the citizens that were scammed by credit default swaps, mortgage backed securities, etc. As we can see from the data over the past 20 years, the federal government compounded the serf's debt while paying off Wall Street's gambling debts. The serfs are now chained to these financial institutions for the unforeseeable future. Now the banks and the lords own the majority of the land and housing; and yet the serfs must toil on their plots and scratch out a living to pay off their debts as well as the debts of the lord of the manor.
Lord Conard also asserts that the financial meltdown was not caused by unethical bankers or the toxic waste they flooded on the world's financial markets, but claims it was the fault of the serfs for making an old-fashioned "run on the banks." That theory is a new one I haven't heard from neo-feudal lords, and is so ridiculous I had to read it twice to make sure I read it properly. Furthermore, Lord Conard suggests that we have a fund in place in case we need to bailout the banks again! That's right! Conard supports corporate welfare. What are the chances that he supports the Affordable Care Act? No answer required. Remember, the job of the serfs is to supply and serve their feudal lords.
Finally, if there is anyone that proves that neo-feudalism is firmly entrenched in America, it's Bürgermeister Bloomberg. Bloomberg, of course, was named in the suit brought forth by OWS and four city council members for unleashing what he called "...my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh largest army in the world." Did the Bürgermeister use his own personal army to help his old Wall Street pals to suppress peaceful protesters with excessive force? You can judge from his words and actions yourself. He clearly runs his fiefdom with a velvet-gloved fist and some brass knuckles hidden beneath.
So serfs, just keep quiet, pay your debts, pay your lords' debts, use the service entrance and enjoy your servitude!