Posts Tagged ‘1%’

Punch And Judy 2021

October 25, 2021

            In a news exclusive, Rolling Stone headlined: “Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff” (Hunter Walker, 10-24-21). The article swirls around the accounts of two anonymous individuals involved with the planning and organizing of rallies and events prior to the grand finale of January 6. The members of congress included “Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)” as well as Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Walker reports that in an email to Rolling Stone “Nick Dyer, who is Greene’s communications director, said she was solely involved in planning to object to the electoral certification on the House floor.” “Dyer also suggested the public is far more concerned with issues occurring under President Joe Biden than they are with what happened in January. “No one cares about Jan. 6 when gas prices are skyrocketing, grocery store shelves are empty, unemployment is skyrocketing, businesses are going bankrupt, our border is being invaded, children are forced to wear masks, vaccine mandates are getting workers fired, and 13 members of our military are murdered by the Taliban and Americans are left stranded in Afghanistan,” Dyer wrote.” Analysis finds that to be a pretty gloom and doom, negative and dire to say the least, assessment of America today. Shelves were empty, unemployment was skyrocketing and businesses were going bankrupt in 2020 when Biden wasn’t President. Just trying to steer the conversation like Youngkin is doing with school board controversies in Virginia? Perhaps. But Analysis is intrigued by the description of America presented by Dyer, not in the strategies of rhetoric. What if it is true? If it were true, one would expect the repercussions to be pervasive, across the board. September 2021 unemployment rate was at 4.8%, the lowest since before the pandemic. Supply chain issues are causing shelves to be emptied. Economist point to the pent up demand creating a tsunami of buying as one of the factors involved with this gap (and our methodology is as old as the extinct Sears Roebuck catalogue – we order it and expect it to arrive on demand). As for businesses going bankrupt, as of this writing the S&P was at 35,700. It has and continues to rise. In the past that would be an indicator of confidence in the ability to make money in America. But wait, didn’t we just assume that Dyer’s description of America was true? If the dire assessment is so, that conditions in America suck, then what creates the rising value of stock certificates, continuously increasing the wealth of the 1% who own most of it? Analysis finds a disjunct between what Dyer says (as spokesman for MTG) and what the financial wealth actually being made and determined says. Analysis finds that, true or false, Dyer is trying to steer the conversation (and have MTG benefit from the fear and anxiety it creates). But Analysis also finds that, true or false, the controversy and strife caused by “the conversation” has not dampened the ability of the wealthy to make more money from their money. It seems that the greater the chaos and crisis, the more opportunity there is to reap financial reward for those not caught in the fray. Analysis finds it all to be an obverse Punch and Judy Show, where the puppet masters are heartily enjoying (and benefitting from) the spectacle of their audience pulling each other’s strings while beating themselves senseless.

We Pretend To Work; They Pretend To Pay Us

December 3, 2020

            Wall Street’s DOW set a record high by going above 30,000 Tuesday (11-24-20). Many alibis were given. None explained how money could be making money when financial and personal misery is the coin of the kingdom. Analysis found a modicum of explanation for the financial sector outperforming amidst the otherwise abysmal condition of what ostensibly supports the market – employment, production and service. The late David Graeber is primarily remembered for his voluminous Debt: The First 5,000 Years. His last book came out in 2018. It is entitled Bullshit Jobs. What is a bullshit job? 

“consider the following quote, from an interview with then US president Barack Obama about some of the reasons why he bucked the preferences of the electorate and insisted on maintaining a private, for-profit health insurance system in America: “I don’t think in ideological terms. I never have,” Obama said, continuing on the health care theme. “Everybody who supports single-payer health care says, ‘Look at all this money we would be saving from insurance and paperwork.’ That represents one million, two million, three million jobs [filled by] people who are working at Blue Cross Blue Shield or Kaiser or other places. What are we doing with them? Where are we employing them?” I would encourage the reader to reflect on this passage because it might be considered a smoking gun. What is the president saying here? He acknowledges that millions of jobs in medical insurance companies like Kaiser or Blue Cross are unnecessary. He even acknowledges that a socialized health system would be more efficient than the current market-based system, since it would reduce unnecessary paperwork and reduplication of effort by dozens of competing private firms. But he’s also saying it would be undesirable for that very reason. One motive, he insists, for maintaining the existing market-based system is precisely its inefficiency, since it is better to maintain those millions of basically useless office jobs than to cast about trying to find something else for the paper pushers to do.” (pg. 157) A more contemporary and local example would be Ohio’s HB6 debacle which props up 2 scheduled-to-be-decommissioned nuclear power plants as well as two completely redundant coal fired power plants while dissing more efficient and sustainable forms of energy production. So much for bullshit jobs though it is important to understand the function they play in the “market” and why their existence is deemed desirable (Hint: they justify the funneling of money from the bottom to the top, as in 1%). Graeber does let drop some insights that contribute to our question regarding the current record DOW in really abysmal  times: “It’s almost impossible to get accurate figures about what proportion of a typical family’s income in, say, America, or Denmark, or Japan, is extracted each month by the FIRE sector [Finance, Insurance, Real Estate], but there is every reason to believe it is not only a very substantial chunk but also is now a distinctly greater chunk of total profits than those the corporate sector derives directly from making or selling goods and services in those same countries. Even those firms we see as the very heart of the old industrial order – General Motors and General Electric in America, for example – now derive all, or almost all, of their profits from their own financial divisions. GM, for example, makes its money not from selling cars but rather from interest collected on auto loans.” (pg. 177) So much for the stock market being about employment, production, and service. But wait, he has more: “It just seemed to make sense that, just as Wall Street profits were derived less and less from firms involved in commerce or manufacturing, and more and more from debt, speculation, and the creation of complex financial instruments, so did an ever-increasing proportion of workers come to make their living from manipulating similar abstractions.” (pg. 150) Almost prescient of what the current pandemic has revealed he writes: “if you complain about getting some bureaucratic run-around from your bank, bank officials are likely to tell you it’s all the fault of government regulations; but if you research where those regulations actually come from, you’ll likely discover that most of them were written by the bank.” (pg. 17) “JPMorgan Chase & Co., for example, the largest bank in America, reported in 2006 that roughly two-thirds of its profits were derived from “fees and penalties,” and “finance” in general really refers to trading in other people’s debts – debts which, of course, are enforceable in courts of law.” (pg. 177) “There’s a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, What does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: If 1 percent of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.)” (pg. xx) For Graeber the contemporary stock market is all about trading in debt. This contributes substantively as to answering why Wall Street’s DOW is continuously in record breaking territory during these abysmal times; abysmal because debt is implicated in everything, even in “gov’t bailouts.”