Thursday, August 2, 2012

There Never was a Middle Class

The greatest snow job in the history of America was the propaganda that there was a demographic called the "Middle Class" ("MC").

In a capitalist/free market society (not that we have one of those anymore) you have those that own the means of production ("MOP") and those that sell their labor. Someone convinced a large demographic of Americans, this MC if you will, that because they had some savings and owned some stock in the MOP, that they were somehow a hybrid of the rich and the poor.

That lie is giving up the ghost as we speak.

The "financialization" of everything created a huge class of financial and technology workers that temporarily felt like they had a few bucks - and they did. They did not, however, own very much of the MOP, and the moment their labor was no longer needed the precariousness of their existence became profoundly obvious.

What these people had was a "job". They sold their labor, bought into the financialization of everything by going into debt for nice houses and cars with plush leather seats to keep their cancerous colons (caused by an industrial life of no sunlight/vitamin D and a diet of corn based everything) comfortable while those debt payments were funneled to the 1% that truly owned the MOP but which in reality merely enslaved the MC with varying degrees of comforts...  Until their "job" was eliminated or they became too old to contribute at the pace required and "retired", at which point the truth of it all comes crashing down.

(An entire industry cropped up with millions of people that do not produce a f***ing thing but who are over paid in the capacity of absconding with a slice of the MC member's capital for each and every transaction - and there were a LOT of transactions - and keep them dreaming while skinning them alive. I should know, I worked there for most of my career. As I look back on the "contribution" of the banking industry that I worked for I realize that it was our job to help people get into debt while parroting the lie that financial freedom and a secure "retirement" was waiting for them at the end of the rain bow. Drek. Puke.)

This farce of a system could continue to pull the wool over the MC's eyes as long as growth in everything continued. Then Peak Oil Exports/IMports happened to the U.S., and the rest, as they say, is history.

The MC is coming to the realization that their house is a consumer item, not an asset. It must be maintained and the taxes must be paid. Same with their car. What else do they own? Several hundred thousand $$ worth of financial instruments (that wouldn't feed them and their family for very long) in a 401k or other retirement plan giving them a sense of participating in the "great growth of the economy".

Meanwhile 25% of Americans definitely could not come up with $2000 in an emergency; another 25% probably could not, and; another 25% probably could. Let me translate those 2 "probably's and 1 definitely: 75% of Americans cannot say with definitiveness that they would be able to come up with $2000 in an emergency.

Got that? 75% of Americans are so broke that they couldn't say with confidence that they would absolutely, positively be able to come up with $2000? Then WHERETF is this Middle Class at? (A brilliant kid from the Deep South was visiting Harvard. He was lost, and asked an older gentleman "Do you know where the library's at?". The older gent sniffed and replied, "This is Harvard. At Harvard we do not end our sentences with propositions." The young man thought about this a moment and said, "ya know, you absolutely right. Do you know where the Library's at, asshole?)

This was the Great Lie told to the prols to get them to work. There is no "wealth" within the middle class. Ask yourself: Do you own land? A machine/wood/textile shop? Do you have the tools necessary for the MOP on that land or shop? No. Then you are f***ing poor. Not Middle Class - POOR.

(Jiminny Crickets, I am starting to sound like a Communist! Not to worry, I am a stone cold free market capitalist in a world where the free market and capitalism do not exist.)

And The Powers That Be keep you in this state of complete insecurity with consumer nonsense and false comforts. Air Conditioned Malls/Breast Implants/Rhinoplasty/Fashion. Almost all of it targeted at a certain gender/age group (the incredible damage done to this demographic is simply tragic... "Do not read beauty magazines they will only make you feel ugly"). Look, I am not telling you what to do... but I am saying that you will be taking ownership of what you do - or do not do. Now, one of the other ways that The Powers That Be succeeded in this cluster f*** was in keeping fertility rates low and the number of childless people high (though I believe this to be inadvertent phenomenon, not some kind of conspiracy). Childless people LIKE government services. They have no children and grandchildren to worry about. Its all about THEM (this is just my assessment on my personal observations... you can think me nutty if you like... but discuss this with me, you might find that I have given this some thought and am not completely out of my mind). They are more than happy with cradle to the grave government assistance.

The once and future wealthy will be those that own land and the MOP in small cities and towns across the country, NOT the banksters in New York and London. All those future predictions on Urban demographics? Maybe, but I doubt it. In any event the vast majority of these people will be poor and will live their lives in precarious dependence.

I have just 2 words for living in precarious dependence, and it ain't Happy Birthday (rhymes with Duck Hat).

I realize that I tend to bring things back to finances and security - I spent my career thinking about how to help people become financially independent and providing for my family. My thinking has evolved, prodded along by my firm belief that the financial system/currency system is in the beginning throes of disaster. Its hard to be "financially secure" if the financial system is insecure. The system nearly collapsed in 2008, and is being held together by band-aids (not even duct tape) at the moment. The Keynesian loonies are still in control and will absolutely, positively blow it all up (and after the system does blow, the Keynesians will blame this outcome on everyone else! For not being Keynesian enough! "If we just spent a little bit more, everything would have been OK").

Have a family? Want the best for your children? Then own land and/or the MOP. I am not talking about overpriced corn land in Iowa. I speak of inexpensive farmland outside Ithaca, NY; Reading, Pa. Greensboro, NC; Springfield MO. It is not enough to own that land. Now you have to make that land produce (hence the MOP I keep mentioning). You will need the necessary equipment. "Capital" equipment. You know, the stuff that actually produces goods and services. Learn how to actually do something (besides filing out mortgage applications, real estate and insurance brokerage, and other financial services - there are too many people chasing too few jobs in that sector). Actually, a lot of things! Invest in the tools and the equipment to do these things and time to learn to do them well. Because, as I mentioned in my 3 or 4 previous posts, the days of coming out of college with a humanities degree and landing a job with full medical and a secure "retirement" are over. That period lasted less than a half century, yet we seem to have come to believe that those circumstances were sacrosanct (kind of like the "Leave it to Beaver" version of women) -  they are not. Oil imports will continue to decline and this will continue to cause economic contraction until it stops... likely very, very far into the future.

The Middle Class is not "disappearing". The Middle Class is not "collapsing". The illusion of a Middle Class is being stripped away by the truth of it - There never was a Middle Class. If you do not want to be poor, then don't be. The rules are what they are and they are unconcerned with our abilities to interpret them correctly.


guy11976 said...

Best post you have written!

Anonymous said...

I have been living my life, especially the last five years, with a common theme " the more you know the less you need" . I have tried to get my family and friends in this mind set to little success. Good post. Greg are you finding inner peace? You seem much more thoughtful in your post in the past six months then all of your early writtings, if so GOOD! It will be needed in the coming years.


PioneerPreppy said...

100% agree with your assessment. Nothing new there though.

My only concern is the transition period as it continues though. Those who either do not see what is coming, have too much invested in the way things are, or just don't like the possibility of actually producing for themselves are going to fight it every step of the way which means even more robbing of the so called middle class.

I fear getting the land and skills may prove to be the easy part compared to keeping them in an energy starved social engineered world.

Anonymous said...

There is and will return a middle class. What has changed is this idea that each of us deserves to live like little princes and princesses. There is plenty of money out there -- if not, why are the alcohol/drugs/tattoo/gambling/prostitution/guns/etc industries flourishing? People have money if they want to have money. People spent WAY too much and went into debt WAY too much to achieve the life of the characters they see on TV and the movies. The middle class is out there. They are just addle-brained spenders and borrowers.

Anonymous said...

I share Pioneer's fear of actually being able to hang onto land and tools after acquisition, even if currently it's all paid in full.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong up ahead.

Stephen B.

James M Dakin said...

If you get your land now, you can build up the soil and make it productive. Just in time for your new overlord to turn you into a serf. Sorry, yeoman farmers are fantasy in the coming crapstorm.