March 18, 2010

Trickle-Down and Globalization, Levels of the Lie


Trickle-down has been the ineradicable Big Lie of forty years. We’ve long known that all the claims of neoclassical economics, globalization, and financialization were lies. We should proceed immediately to liquidate all concentrated wealth. The only reason it was allowed to accumulate in the first place, the alleged value it created, was that so much of it would “trickle down” that everyone would end up better off.
But we now know what a Lie this was. We know the wealth never trickles down and was never meant to. There was never any social value in its accumulation. On the contrary, the extraction system has been purely destructive for all except the rentier parasites. It was stolen property right from the start, and it remains stolen property. Yet the lie continues, for the obvious reason that it’s the only way for the parasite class to hold on to this power and wealth, and because the brainwashing runs deep. Even after everything that’s happened, most people still believe their own well-being somehow depends upon a kind of handout from the rich. (And that they themselves are magically going to become rich someday.)
Trickle-down, AKA supply-side economics, or more accurately voodoo economics (to believe in its empirical truth in defiance of the dispositive evidence of its falsehood really does require a bizarre kind of religious faith), is also an expression of corporatist ideology. Believing in trickle-down, or at any rate supporting policy based upon it (most of the “experts” and pundits who still shill for it can’t be so dumb as to still actually believe in it), indicates one’s belief that the purpose of an economy, of the wealth the people create, and of society itself, is not to produce goods to meet needs, and it’s not the people’s well-being.
Rather, the purpose of all economic activity is to generate wealth which can then be expropriated for the benefit of a few big corporations and rich investors. The people should then be allowed to receive only what the rich see fit to let trickle down. The purpose of civilization is to provide the rentiers with a foundation and fortress for their looting.
So the people have no right to the wealth they and only they create. They should have everything they produce confiscated, and should receive back only what the feudalists calculate is in their own interest.
Who are the proponents of trickle-down today? Republicans, yes. But Democrats and “progressives” are just as ardent. Out of either criminality (as social fascists) or their cowardly escapism of the process mentality, they’re just as much a band of Reaganite warriors are the Reps are.
The health racket bill is a prime example. Any human principle, that basic health care is a human right, what decent people would provide for themselves, and part of the core competency and purpose of society as such, was purged from the “process” at the outset, replaced by the corporatist mindset.
Even sincere “reformers” still believed that the correct model is to retain the system set up for the profit of the rackets, but to try to craft a bill which would cause more benefit to trickle down to “users”, you know, patients, who also happen to be the workers whose wealth creation allows any system to exist at all, but who are considered not to be entitled to directly benefit from the wealth they themselves created.
We see the same ideological dynamic on every other front. The most ponderous example is the Bailout, which was explicitly sold according to the premise that the only way Main Street can be helped is if Wall Street is handed trillions of dollars of taxpayer money, some of which can then trickle down to Main Street.
Since every cent of these trillions is Main Street’s property in the first place, why couldn’t all of it have just remained on Main Street? If this government is an American government and not a quisling regime, why couldn’t it have organized a direct Main Street “bailout”, leaving the bank rackets completely out in the cold where, according to the capitalist textbooks, they should have been left?
There are no true answers to these questions. You’re simply not supposed to ask them. They’re not even pertinent to Republicans and Democrats, because all elites agree that Wall Street isn’t there to serve anyone but Wall Street, while the very purpose of Main Street is to be Wall Street’s cash cow. Only Wall Streeters are Americans, according to this rogue political and media class. We the serfs should simply feel honored to serve as raw material for such a majestic machine, and be grateful for whatever trickles down.
Even on job creation, with real unemployment headed above 20% (reject the scam U3 number), for the government to directly create jobs is out of the question. No, so-called “jobs creation” has to take the form of tax breaks for employers, the benefit of which is then supposed to trickle down. Never mind that here too it’s been proven that “the market” will hire however many workers it thinks it needs to hire, no more, no less, no matter what tax breaks exist or don’t exist.  So at best this kind of indirect artificial job creation does the same thing as if the government created the jobs themselves, but adds a rent-seeking toll booth in the middle of the transaction. This is done for no reason other than corporatist voodoo ideology. It’s the same with the student loan disbursement mechanism, where a pure bloodsucking parasite is gratuitously inserted between the government (i.e. the public’s money) and the recipient (i.e. the public). Why is getting rid of such an obvious criminal scam so difficult? Because of shared conservative and liberal ideology. They believe nothing’s valid if a private toll booth isn’t involved.
Reps and Dems, leaders among conservatives and liberals – that’s really what they all believe.
Even if there was ever real innovation and top-down wealth creation (which is doubtful), we know as fact that by now there is no longer any such innovation. All sectors are mature. By now all wealth creation, 100% of it, is by the people. So by now the super-rich are and can be nothing but thieves and parasites. They create nothing. But let’s say for argument’s sake that they still create something, and that trickle-down is both true and a morally acceptable way to organize society. In that case:
1. The contract would be, for the sake of their wealth creation, we tolerate their existence, and the benefits trickle down to us.
2. But as we’ve seen with the health care debacle, with the financial collapse and the Bailout, with job destruction, wealth concentration, the gutting of the safety net, and so many other things, nothing is trickling down. On the contrary, what little we had is being stolen or trashed.
We can never emphasize it enough, to the eternal dishonor of the scum who support this insurance racket bill: Even basic, decent health care doesn’t trickle down.
3. So what good are they? Not only are they worthless, and not only are they harmful, but they broke the contract. They are dealbreakers, cheats, welshers, betrayors, traitors.
So if you ever believed in this deal we supposedly had, you should be all the more outraged. They’re not only parasites but criminals, they’re predatory and above all useless, worthless.
If anyone denies this, then what could possibly be the point of having society at all? What could be the rationale for the forbearance on the part of the non-rich, the toleration of the existence of these parasites? What reason can anyone give for why we shouldn’t get rid of them? If we get nothing out of the deal but exploitation and rage?
Why don’t we have the leisure economy by now? Why don’t we have wealth equality? These were the things the textbooks promised. This was the hype of technology. It’s because every textbook elided the lie – there is no “capitalism”. What we have is feudalism; everyone seeks monopoly or oligopoly, and having attained it the monopolist then just seeks to hoard power and wealth. So-called primitive accumulation, using one’s power position to steal, is really the most modern practice (while true capitalism, if it ever did exist, is one for the antiquarians).
Everyone in “authority” who ever says this is a capitalist system (or a democracy, as I’ve discussed elsewhere), is simply a liar.
They’ve had decades in power for their neoliberal ideology. They’ve had decades for their promised “benefits” to materialize. We know today every promise was a lie.
It’s been quite a pivotal week for neoliberalism, trickle-down, and the whole scam. In addition to the climax of the legislative debacle, we have the ongoing Lehman saga and the newest phony foreign adventure, the propaganda war over currencies heating up with China.
Lehman’s accounting fraud, and the government’s collaboration with it, are simply symptoms of the whole financialization scam. It was always based on looting, but indirect looting is getting harder because debt bubbles are harder to come by, the more the real economy is gutted. As the housing bubble blew up, and all that toxic paper became worthless, what choice did Lehman have? What choice did the Fed have? Every day the same stark choice presents itself to the criminal class: Figure out a way to prop up insolvency by figuring out new ways to lie and steal, or else admit defeat, divest yourselves, return the stolen wealth and power to the people. Since they’ll never voluntarily do the latter (reality will eventually do it for them), they can only keep lying. That’s why the trickle-down lie has been enshrined as the centerpiece of their ideology. They have no other idea.
That’s been the Gordian knot throughout. The knot they refuse to untie, which they can only desperately try to keep from unravelling, or the rope from breaking. They’re all Lehmans now. The two intractable knots, the toxic assets and the rogue political system, need a new Alexander to cut them. Nothing else can suffice.
The same scam is playing out on the globalization front. Debtor and creditor countries are squabbling over currency pegs and manipulation, and everyone has the same solution: I’m OK, you’re screwed up, so you change. The whole thing’s a joke, since Chimerica is a fused organism, and a stateless globalism elite divided against itself cannot stand.
The problem this spat is meant to provide escapism from is that the American consumer peasantry is depleted, while China will never be able to replace it out of its own peasantry. So among the elites, nobody knows who’s supposed to buy all the crap, even if they can figure out a way to keep providing debt to keep the factories humming. Globalization has accomplished on the grand scale what Walmart accomplishes in town after town. When you destroy all the real jobs, then no matter how low your prices are, and no matter how much consumer debt you can prestidigitate into being, eventually the consumer well is spent.
So just as Walmartization gutted the local economies of America, so globalism’s fractal Walmartization has gutted America as a whole. Now the parasites of America and China are struggling to find a wormhole out of this trap, but all they can do is point fingers among themselves. At least they can hope to buy some political time by providing their respective peasantries with a foreign scapegoat upon whom to blame their economic woes. It’s the same old xenophobia scam.
Just like with the zombie banks with their toxic “assets”, so here too there is no solution which would preserve the wealth and power of these persons. The existential insanity of the finance sector is an iteration of the same insanity of globalization itself.
Here again, it’s not “the US” vs “China”, but the American people vs. the parasite which has hijacked America, which is the same as the parasite which has hijacked China. The globalization elite is rootless and psychopathic, the same as the domestic elite, simply at different levels of iteration. And they all tell the same trickle-down lie.
Trickle-down, as the unifying idea of the Washington system, shared alike by Republicans and Democrats, is the antithesis of the freedom ideal, of self-reliance, self-sufficiency, the pioneer spirit. Nothing good in this world ever came from the top down. All productive labor comes from the bottom up, and all worthwhile action as well.
Most of all: No “management” is ever necessary. In principle socialism was supposed to mean not just nominal worker ownership. The core is active worker self-management. That’s the essence of positive freedom in the economic sphere. That’s the core revolutionary ideal, and it suffuses every prism, every perspective. Relocalization of the economy, of politics, of culture, of energy production and distribution, of food production and distribution. The real solutions everywhere to our political and resource challenges boil down to the people managing themselves.
Meanwhile the core of reaction, of stagnation, of the feudal mindset, is managerial elitism. Conservatives and liberals alike agree that only formally educated (and preferably monied) “elites” like themselves have the capacity to be managers. It’s the same autocratic ideology which claims that intelligence and wisdom mystically inhere in power and money. Today this elitism is the mysticism of Wall Street and the Fed, the Washington political and media elites, ramifying on out through all other sectors. Scientism and technocracy also play into it. Centralized, hi-tech, complex systems, of course pilotable only by management and engineering elites, themselves supervised by “executives”, are the only way anything can be done, according to the Big Lie.
This tyranny is unsustainable. Economics and resource limitations doom it. But until then, if we meekly acquiesce in our lot, we shall become ever more enslaved. Before then we must reassert ourselves as human beings. Freedom must speak. As much as it is within our hands, we must revolt to break out of our doglike position waiting for the stale crumbs and poisoned water droplets to “trickle down.”

May 23, 2009


There’s been loads of debate on what’s happening in America. Anywhere you can find expositions on capitalism and the end of capitalism or the death of capitalism or the reform of capitalism or how to save capitalism or the triumph of capitalism (this last one usually phrased in a different way). Also whether the putative reform of capitalism is actually socialism, and whether Americans are willing to entertain the term “socialism”, and from there of course to what terms like capitalism and socialism even mean anymore.
As to what terms we should use, it’s obvious that America has long been basically a corporatist system, meaning that here neither capitalism nor socialism are ideals, but are just tactics which are applied wherever appropriate to maximize the power and wealth of the nexus of big corporations and big government.
(The dream government for business would be something like the Franco regime. It was corporatist, economically “fascist”, with a state-supported religion (opium for the masses). But unlike Hitler or Mussolini Franco had a rational rather than a deranged foreign policy. (That’s why he resisted Hitler’s inducements to enter the war – Franco figured Hitler was cruising for a fall and would drag down everyone with him.)
So why has American business supported Bush-style hallucinatory imperialism and K-street thuggery? This shows the fundamental disconnect of all American life from reason and reality. In the twilight of cheap oil and exponential debt we have a void and a shoddy facade where an economy and a safety net should be, so that textbook “business” can no longer function, but only an ever more volatile disaster capitalism.)  
Capitalism, democracy, civics, citizenship, rule of law – all these mean nothing. They are nonexistent outside of propaganda pens (“schools”).
[I’d like to add here that if we want these things back, we can restore them, but not within the framework of big government, big corporations, the present system which is so terminally rotted, “bigness” itself, and not within the framework of the doomed fossil fuel civilization. We can only build new communities from the ground up. There can be a diversity of these, anything from smallholder capitalism to kibbutz communism, with the uniting principle being human community, as long as the other uniting principle is self-reliance and sustainability. If even the small relocalized communities get back into large-scale trade, specialization, “comparative advantage”, and the inevitable expansion and conflict which must follow from these, then the whole nightmare begins again, only at a smaller level.]
Rather, the terms that capture reality are feudalism, corporatism, plutocracy, kleptocracy, lemon socialism, welfare fascism. What these capture is the utter irresponsibility, the sociopathy of American economic life.
No one is any longer trying to create, to invent, improve, add value, to make better their own or anybody else’s lives, to shine light on truth. Innovation and talent – using these in their English rather than their nowadays more common Orwellian sense – mean nothing.
Rather, everyone at every economic level is trying to get over, to run a scam, to “get rich” (how tawdry and meanly nihilistic the “American dream” is at its core), to pose and not be, to say and not do. If they have the power they steal, spin, obscure, lobby, capture, bribe, obstruct, extort, and sue, to plunder, entrench, monopolize, rig the playing field in their favor, pull up the ladder behind them.
If they don’t have the power, they dream of these things.
How the banks and the FIRE sector have come to completely dominate the American system is a well-told story by now. I think anyone who is capable of understanding it must understand it by now. And now as Too Big To Fail zombies the big banks have only tightened their stranglehold over the economy and government, and over all measures of what constitutes economic good, bad, recovery, recession.
The other pivot of American life, economic, political, and psychological, is the “Global War on Terror”, which is the term encompassing the intensified imperial aggression America requires to secure the resources to prop up its fuel infrastructure, the corporatism which is directly enabled through the expanding military-industrial complex and is also the overarching system being propped up by this empire, and the increasingly constrictive “homeland” police state to repress the dissent all this must provoke.
My personal term for the GWOT and the neocon ideology it springs from is resource fascism. It centers on oil, but will soon center on “alternatives”: unconventional oil and agrofuels (we already have the ethanol pseudo-industry as a pure textbook example of a parasite). Here big corporations and mainstream environmentalists, conservatives and liberals, can join hands in trying to prop up cars and sprawl (the core material form of American life).
The unreality and the con extend everywhere. If the point of saving GM was to preserve good American jobs (or even just to maintain American military vehicle production, as some have argued), how is this served by letting them completely offshore to China? It’s not. Rather, “saving GM” is a particularly sloppy con job.
[I try not to bother tallying examples among small entities and non-rich, non-powerful individuals, since although there’s plenty of corruption there as well, keeping our eyes on the prize means maintaining focus on the crimes of the powerful. It’s these which construct and define the system. (The attempt among republicans to deflect this responsibility by blaming the small fry, so that the mortgage bubble and collapse were the fault of reckless borrowers exploiting the poor good-natured banks, and torture was the work of “bad apples”, is an absurd fraud.) So if we wish to be educated and aware, defend ourselves and fight back, the first rule is to counter-attack something big and bloated.]
I wish I had a more rigorously optimistic way to wrap this up this morning. I wrote the first part of it, then did some work in the garden, and now I come back and think about how beautiful out it is. I believe the earth will still be able to heal once the oil wave recedes. As horrible as man’s vandalism has been, it’s still a surface wound.
What’s more questionable is whether the human soul can heal. When we look at the systematic ravages in ideology and religion, the perversion of education and despoliation of culture, the psychopathy of science and the apparently universal hatred for the mind, and when we ponder what horrors are likely to convulse the dying decades of the oil age, as the mad genius of oil tries to leave behind it an absolute scorched earth of the spirit once and for all, we must wonder what part of what’s human can be carried through the flames.
I don’t know yet what can be done and how to do it, but that’s what I see more and more people trying to figure out. At least this is the most promising sign.