Random musings on a Saturday night. . .
The financialization of active citizens, reconfigured as passive consumers, is the keystone of the game, creating a demand for all that stuff peddled by corporations a peddled as objects of desire both in advertising through placement in media content as symbols of wealth, power, and sexual desirability. Note to that those media, like the the corporations selling the stuff, are owned in large part by investment banksters and massive pension funds, public and private, while a new class of billionaires arises through the flood of cash generated by all that stuff — at least in advanced economies but to an alarming extent in second- and third-tier economies.
In addition to direct profits earned by manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, even more wealth is generation by the financialization that makes it all possible. Without a scale of consumer credit unparalleled in modern history, banks generate vast sums through interest payments and fees charged for the borrowed cash that make us seeker out in order to accommodate all that stuff we’ve financed on credit cards.
And then there’s all the money needed to finance two car loans, because a second car is essential for many families with two income earners rather than the one that was the norm back when esnl was growing up in the 1950s.
And then there are those student loans you’ve got to get to land a job that gives you a crack at all that stuff, loans bigger than a lot of home mortgages and taking just as long to pay off.
Our blog flag features some very perceptive words from Aldous, Huxley, even truer today than when written more than sixty years ago:
Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence — those are the three pillars of Western prosperity.
The U.S., of course, by far the world’s largest arms merchant, and planned obsolescence is the prime directive of the “information economy,” where folks by phones every year chasing the latest gotta-have-it features and computer software that comes in an unceasing parade of enumerated editions, with creations made on an early version oftens unreadable by the latest programs. [For the first decade as a journalist, we wrote our stories on typewriters, many of them newsroom veterans older than we were. In those days, modst folks had one telephone, a heavy black two-piece contraption that never borke and you kept as long as you owned or rented your dwelling.
Similarly, back in those days credit cards were unheard of and when folks wanted to buy something like a television of some living room furniture and they couldn’t pay in full couldn’t pay, stores would put the item on lay away, holding the item until the customer was able to make a series of payments over time to cover the item cost. Or, if you had a good reputation in the community, you might get store credit and have use of them items whilst paying them off.
But when federal law changes allowed banks to operate across state lines, credit cards exploded on the scene and private debt soared.
Issues unspoken during the election
These are the most important issues confronting American society today, along with the recrudescence of racism stirred up by the President-elect.
Yet only Bernie Sanders raised the debt/financialization issue, generating the ire of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, even though they were classic staples of New Deal-era Democrats.
Trump exploited the ire generated by the loss of class position and the hope of advancement that once inspired the American working class, but he focused that anger on the least powerful and most oppressed among us.
We had a race between a candidate who measures her wealth in the hundreds of millions and one who wealth is somewhere in the billions. Neither candidate worries about whether they can pay the rent, and the daughter of the Democrat is married to a Goldman Sachs star, whilst her opponent craps on a gold-plated toilet.
Welcome to Trump’s America, where things can only get worse.