A War Upon Us

By David Glenn Cox

Abandoned home. Photo by Jay Santiago.

I heard this news story the other day, “The worst housing downturn in seven decades,” okay, lets be honest about something here. They are referencing the “Great Depression” of the 1930’s when the American population was only a 150 million people. So just by the weight and the sheer volume of the numbers and of the dollar amounts involved, we are talking about a home foreclosure crisis which, by itself, becomes an event unprecedented in the annals of American history and in all world history, as well.

After over a decade of perpetual war, suicides among active duty military personnel exceed three each week. 164 last year, 159 the year before and that’s still only counting those on active duty. We can build better armored tanks or the stealthier aircraft but people break, they’re fragile. You can’t put young people under murderous stress after training them to do the opposite of what they have been taught all of their lives without breaking some of them. The war has become unpopular now and so is no longer newsworthy, but they still must grind on, doing the ugly work of empire.

The largest level of debt among our people isn’t from credit cards or from auto loans, it is from student loans. The average student loan debt is $22,500 but a $100,000 is a common figure, just for a Bachelor’s degree. Counter intuitive isn’t it, that while the media sells us the myth of personal irresponsibility the highest debt owed by Americans is for self improvement. They graduate into the worst job market since… anybody? Shh… we don’t speak of such things; from a high of ten percent unemployment in October of 2009, the unemployment numbers have been massaged downwards while the actual number of unemployed peoples changes little. That official ten percent figure was the official filtered number; the unfiltered number was closer to 19 percent.

US unemployment during the Great Depression hit a high of 23.5 percent, but back in thirty two they weren’t quite as sharp about spinning and paring down numbers as they are today. There is a fundamental difference here which makes this worst down turn in seven decades far different from the last. In 1932, the factory gates were only closed. Today, the factory gates no longer exist. They are gone, shipped overseas, in a for profit orgy gone mad scheme and the jobs aren’t coming back anytime in the foreseeable future.

How could this happen? After all of our politicians from both political parties had all promised us that Free Trade would be so good to us.

“US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals’ home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II.

The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a “two-tier labor market” in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income.” – The CIA World Fact Book

This was recently published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The share of families with an unemployed person fell from a peak of 12.4 percent in 2010 to 11.5 percent in 2011. Of the nation’s 78.4 million families, 79.8 percent had at least one employed member in 2011.” What a masterpiece of Orwellian “New Speak” by simply inverting the number and turning it around the other way you see the truth displayed, 20.2 percent of American families DO NOT have at least one employed member.

Boston area consumer prices rose 1.8% last month, in Chicago it was 1.2%, Mountains and Plains states 1.0% as well. Or as my boss used to say, “a 2% discount per month is 24% per year.” So it follows that a 1% monthly CPI increase amounts to 12% annual increase against an average wage growth of 3% per year. Worker productivity has increased every year averaging 3% over the last five years thus making their employers more money and yet workers wages…fell. Similar indeed, that in the decade before the crash of 1929 worker productivity rose 20% as wages rose only 5%

In 2005, the Congress of these United States passed, “The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act.” Just a sheer coincidence, of course, that this law would be passed making it more difficult for the average Joe six pack to discharge their debts through bankruptcy, while at the same time the bill made it easier for business to discharge their bad debts. How could they have known? It must go down in history as one of the greatest events of prognostication of all time, that they would pass a bankruptcy reform act which penalizes the populace and rewards the corporate, just in time, just thirty six months before the worst down turn in seven decades occurred. But who was it, who was it who were abusing the laws and just who was it, that were protected by this Congress?

Since 2010, nearly 300,000 teachers have lost their jobs, what does an unemployed school teacher to do for employment in the worst economic down turn in seven decades? Then were are almost 52,000 layoffs in the Post Office last year, not surprising then that our economy sputters, starved for fuel, starving workers, starving families and stealing hope and opportunity.

“Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone. More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“With the changing economy, no one has lifetime employment. But community colleges provide lifetime employability.” – Barack Obama

Obama’s marketing plan is to make students add to their own student loan debt by attending community colleges who work in lock step with corporations to make employees go into debt paying for their own training. Training them to work at the Gap, Banana Republic and McDonalds. Union jobs have historically offered apprenticeship programs where the worker gets paid while they train but Obama has turned that on its head by adding a pay wall just to apply for a menial job.

From: Daily Job Cuts- “By a 4-1 vote, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission approved the rules for employers who use criminal background checks, calling for careful consideration of how and when such reviews can be used in pre-employment screenings and in the workplace because of their potential to be biased against certain groups, such as racial minorities.”

Again Orwellianism, as government warns employers, investigate all you like, stick your finger up their ass if you feel that you need to, only, just be careful! The background check is only one tang of the fork, which together with the credit check and the drug screen perfect the trifecta to deny Americans employment.

In Florida, home prices have fallen 45.9 % since 2006, and is similar to the numbers nationwide, and yet the only answer homeowner’s receive from their government is to try and sell out while you still can. Or to fill out endless bank forms and to basically beg you be allowed to keep your home. The banks have little interest in helping these struggling homeowners because the bank can take the deed on the defaulted property to the F.D.I.C. and they will be made whole on their loss. Obama’s HAMP mortgage program will pay the bank a maximum of $1,500 to modify your mortgage. Right now, 7.4 out of every 1000 homes in the Untied States have been foreclosed and the number of Americans who own their own home has fallen to the lowest number in seven decades.

Do we live in a world filled only with accidents and random events? Could all of these things be happening to us so randomly? Could all of these miseries and misfortunes be the fault of accidents or perhaps some sort of a divine punishment?

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”- Mark Twain

Barack Obama’s cat food commission, Paul Ryan’s budgets, cuts everywhere, blood spattered on the killing floor. Mitt Romney calls for massive budget cuts and increased military spending spitting into the teeth of a national poll where 78 percent of American’s say military spending is too high. Romney says these things because he’s trying to lose, and he’s trying to move the goal posts further to the right.

Reading through the tea leaves of increased surveillance, repressive laws along with the criminalization of dissent, the future appears effluent. Gritty with the tomato seeds of big media, watery with TV and infotainment, what does government offer to us which represents us here? What are they doing to aid or assist the American people struggling through the worst down turn in seven decades? Are they assisting the student? Are they assisting the elderly? Are they assisting the infant or the job seeker, the soldier, the sick or the senior?

They are only serving themselves and now, they have declared war upon us.

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