What Occupy Wall Street is really about
The system has failed Americans in a multitude of ways. But that doesn't absolve anyone of personal responsibility for his own problems.
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It wasn’t his fault that the Nixon administration cut the link to gold in 1971. It wasn’t his fault the Chinese produced things better and cheaper. It wasn’t his fault that the feds kept stimulating the economy…and encouraging him to go deeper and deeper into debt at artificially low interest rates. And it certainly wasn’t he who caused the housing bubble to blow up…or who caused it in the first place.Skip to next paragraph
Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind The Daily Reckoning (dailyreckoning.com).
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But one thing you can depend on. Not many people will do the hard work of connecting the kneebone of this disaster to the legbone that caused it. And he won’t want to make the sacrifices necessary to protect himself from it either. (Our advice: cut expenses to almost zero…save money…buy gold…become a bankruptcy lawyer.) Instead, he’ll join the revolution.
Of course, people do not join revolutions for good reasons. They join them for bad ones. They expect miracles. One wants free money. The other wants power. One wants to see his brother-in-law, who earns big money as a currency trader at JPMorgan, brought low. Another just wants to get high. One expects his mortgage to disappear. Another wants the whole neighborhood to disappear. One hopes to see his dead wife rise from the grave…the other hopes his live wife will fall into it.
One believes the bankers are rich and evil. Another believes the oil companies are rich and evil. A third thinks all rich people are evil. And a fourth believes that all people are evil, even those in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Some want to save porpoises. Some want people to use only natural deodorant. And a third thinks the world uses too much oil…and that only people who drive Priuses should be allowed on the road on Sunday. He owns a Prius dealership.
It is fun to mock the protestors. That’s why we do it. They are such easy targets.
But here at The Daily Reckoning we always stand with the powerless, the aimless and the witless. We are champions of the underdog…the lost cause and the diehard. So, we lock arms with the protestors and pledge our solidarity.
Vive la revolution!
But the poor protestors are just victims of history. When the US embraced its empire it condemned its middle classes. Why? Because that’s how empires work. They bring in cheap goods — and sometimes money itself — from outside. Whether they are taken as booty or traded for the imperial currency, the effect is about the same; they undermine local industries and local wages.
Ancient Rome imported wheat from Egypt, by the boatload, and gave it to citizens (an early form of food stamps). Result: the price of wheat collapsed. Small farmers couldn’t compete with free wheat. They couldn’t earn a living.
The Romans also brought in slaves. Rich, politically-connected Romans took over the small farms, consolidated them into big plantations, and ran them with slave labor. Again, the local labor was out of luck.
Things got so bad for the small farmers that they sold their children into slavery…and then, themselves. Then, in alarm, an edict prohibited Roman farmers from selling themselves into slavery. They were required to remain on their farms…and at work.
Spain ran a very different, short-lived empire in the 16th century. It conquered New World civilizations and imported gold and silver on a colossal scale. It was as if they were printing money! This easy money made the Spaniards rich. They used it like America uses her dollars — to buy things from overseas. Pretty soon, the Spanish neglected their own manufactures and their own farming. Prices rose. Spain’s nascent middle class was smothered in the crib.
Are things so different now? The rich get rich. The middle classes get poorer; they have to compete with imperial plunder…riches coming from Asia, bought with dollars that were never earned…and never will be redeemed.
America’s middle classes were happy to sell their own children into perpetual debt servitude. The kids face obligations 5 to 15 times as great as annual output. Unless they revolt, they will have to work their entire lives to pay for their parents’ excesses.
But what will they do when future generations can take no more? They cannot sell themselves into slavery. They’ve already done so. Most face a lifetime of student debt, mortgage debt, and medical debt (aka Medicaid and Medicare), already.
What can they do? Join the revolution!
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