Dear America – About the 1%, 53%, 99%, Class Warfare, Occupy Wall Street and …


Dear America,

There is a war for your mind. It is a constant war with battles waged not for control of the majority but the few.

The battle for the minds of the majority was won long ago.

You may ask: If the war was won already then why aren’t we all in accord? Why don’t we have a common understanding?

A good question. A good question indeed. The challenge for victors is that wars are never truly won. Victory is usually nothing more than a period of calm when the many submit to the few and when all appears well throughout the land.

Then one day someone asks a new question … and the war begins anew.

About the 1%. They won long ago. For them to continue to win they need class warfare constantly being fought. Peace and calm do not define victory. Division and distrust and discord are the means of assuring recurring victory in the episodic battles that wage to keep the 1% in power and in control of society’s direction and wealth. Distract the many and try to manage the bothersome few.

Relative peace and civil discourse are anathema to the 1%. If we were not constantly arguing and hating one another then we would be comparing and discussing. An outcome for the greater good seldom works in the 1%’s favor. Not that the greater good works against the 1% — but the entire premise of the 1% is that more is always better than less. Even when more is so much that ‘more’ has little meaning other than the quest for more being the end game itself.

That does not make the 1% evil or bad or even ungood. Survival of the fittest, the fastest, the most cunning among us is just the way of life.

To the 99% I say: there is no such thing as the 99%. You may not be the 1% but you are certainly not the 99%. At best you are the sum of the parts of our society that cobble together some coalition. If history offers clues then the left can bring together elements of the 99% for very short periods, unlike the right which manages usually to keep its three to four allied elements generally in some form of harmony.

To the 99%, you are being driven to constant distraction. I do not wish to accuse the 1% of being unpatriotic but I would tell you that patriotism has very little meaning to them — regardless of the empty homilies that pass their lips or how many flags adorn their homes and buildings. Patriotism is constantly used to define issues for the purposes of focusing the minds of the more conservative elements of our society that do respond to symbols of family, faith and country. Much or most of the 1% are apolitical and apatriotic and embrace those concepts only when it supports their own economic objectives.

Yes, the vast majority of the 1% would trade your jobs without second thought if it meant another few cents on the dollar in their pocket. That is not patriotism.

The 1% would sell weapons and natural resources developed by our tax dollars to almost anyone in the world that would buy them if there is profit in it. The transfer of technology, resources and national knowledge accrued by the many and sold on the world’s markets — that is not patriotism.

Our illegal immigrant problem — we are daily driven to distraction and encouraged to drive out those that took our jobs and violated our laws because ‘illegal means illegal’. Yet where were the voices when laws were needed to manage our borders and to develop the skills and to protect the jobs of our own citizens? They were silent because it was profitable. That is not patriotism.

Do not hate the illegal immigrant that came to America to find a job and a better way of life. They were invited. The wealthy are wealthier because of it. You are too.

Dear 53% or 47% or whatever percentage group you belong to: America has fundamentally changed. The 1% won long ago and we are now on a path that can not be easily reversed. Talk of reversal of our economic fortunes is wasted time and energy. Our reality has fundamentally changed and there is no going back.

There are good times (for some) ahead but the good times of 10, 20, 30 years ago are gone and will not come back in our lifetimes.

America’s middle class is dying a slow protracted death and that is why we are so angry. Yet the American middle class is just as much to blame for its own demise as is the 1%.

America’s middle class will continue to shrink and to lose its vitality … and while the middle class will be encouraged to be angry at the working class … those supposed dregs of society that are incapable of pulling themselves up by their own efforts … that working class infused with a healthy dose of illegal immigrants that just want to feast off the ingrateful gratitude of the well fed and pampered middle class that supports them … and yet … and yet … DISTRACTION ZONE … and yet it seems to be the 1% that is pocketing the wealth of the middle class.

To the middle class of America: Stop allowing yourself to be distracted. Focus. Please get some perspective before it really is too late.

To the middle class of America: You exist. You have a Darwinian right to continue your existence as long as you are worthy of existence. Your existence and continued class health and wealth does not depend upon demonizing the less well off in our society. They have almost no voice. They are the future you if you do not focus!

Some perspective, please:

  • The middle class is always the most artificial of society’s three strata of wealth. You only exist in any significant numbers if you are allowed to exist because you serve a purpose. Throughout much of history you, we, have seldom made up more than 10-15% of society’s wealth.
  • America’s sizeable middle class is largely an accident of history. Your pre-World War II ancestors lived a meager existence and were almost certainly blue collar or red neck working class. Middle school would be the education level of the average household adult. Our immediate ancestors looked forward to a nice Sunday dinner. It was THE big meal of the week. Except for World War II that would still be the daily fate of most Americans today. In the past, before we died, we would often bequeath our personal clothes and small personal items to specific people … because they needed them, and generally that was also all we had. We were just as third world as the third world of today. Yes, the average American — and that defines the middle class — had very little other than what they wore or the tools that they used or the books that they left behind.
  • The accident of history that created the great American middle class is that the industrialized world was destroyed by the end of World War II and there was an opportunity to own the world at bargain prices. We could take what we wanted. We could define the laws of trade as we wanted. We could and often did take whatever we found in other people’s backyards around the world. We were economic imperialists of the highest order. The great American middle class exists today because the 1% of the day needed someone to manage and to organize the world’s wealth. As that wealth poured into America we prospered.  Managing the world required a well educated citizenry. Even today there are still families that boast of someone that is or was ‘first’ in their family to get a college degree. We did it for the red, white and blue … or so we thought.
  • Yet someone always asks why. Why is always a dangerous question. It didn’t take long for the world to ask why? For several decades we said ‘because we said so’ and that was answer enough. Why are you pumping our oil and our people are living in poverty? Why are you supporting dictatorships in our country when you speak of democracy and freedom? Why? Why? Why? By the 1970s the world had recovered enough from World War II that they really did want an answer to the question of why? Our world began unraveling at a very fast pace by 1973-1974 when our middle class stumbled as Globalization, version 1, took hold. Version 1 = failure of the U.S. to be able to dictate terms of global economic policy and wealth. The result was that our corporate wealth began to diversify via the formation of multinational corporations; the limited sharing of wealth with others of the world. Multinationalism was our attempt to coopt the economic capabilities of emerging economies.
  • Globalization, version 2, would expand and change our way of life within just 10 years (1973-1983) of version 1’s debut. Just as Nixon (1973) recognized that we can no longer dictate terms to the world, it was Reagan (1983/4) that ushered in version 2 of globalization: the elimination of national borders for purposes of economic wealth transfer. To reassure the American public that we were not giving away our national rights and economic wealth we were promised that free markets would create trickle down  to provide us the quality and quantity of wealth that our people had come to know and to enjoy. It was literally a theory thought out on the side of a dinner napkin.
  • Reagan’s promise of free markets and trickle down was an honest and well-intended promise perhaps but free trade and trickle down economics have very nasty side effects. The primary side effect of trickle down is that it divorced Americans from the actual creation of wealth by reversing and diluting their relationship to what brought them wealth to begin with: the creation of products and management of the world’s resources. Without these two key ingredients there is no reason for the existence of America’s middle class at its current size and level of wealth. Reality is that the hourly value of our work efforts has fallen almost every year since 1980 when adjusted for inflation. What has distracted us from noticing the hollowing of the great American middle class is that we were invested in our country’s wealth. We had a stake. Divestiture from that wealth has occurred at just a few percentage points per year. Magnify that point or two of annual loss by several decades and you will find that  the sheer raw numbers of Americans invested in stock markets bonds and funds has dropped to 1968 levels, and their number has dropped every year since 2004. Yes, we did notice the loss in our personal fortunes but we supplemented our loss with easy credit reforms from the Reagan years and the use of our homes as collateral to buy all the goodies in life made by the other people of the world benefitting from Globalization, version 2.  We were also lucky to keep our costs at home low through cheap food and goods made by all of those illegal aliens that we invited to come to America just so long as they did not demand benefits and an honest wage.
  • For the 99% or whatever percentage of America represents your group: Globalization version 3 is now upon us. The fate of the great American middle class is that it is no longer needed by the 1%. Money flows so freely now across borders that we no longer speak in terms of multinational corporations — such a quaint term from the 1970s and the 1980s. Wealth has few limits upon it because it has diversified. We have achieved the ultimate transfer of wealth: we own parts of the world and the world owns huge parts of us. There is no patriotism involved. ‘Patriotism’ is a distraction and diversionary concept to make you believe that ‘we’ are threatened. If you belong to the middle class, we ARE indeed threatened.  There is limited need for most of us in Globalization, version 3.

To those that want to Occupy Wall Street and to Tea Partyers and to the American middle class in general: There is a war for your mind. It is a constant war with battles waged not for control of the majority but the few. As long as our system remains in gridlock then the 1% continue to win.

The battle is for the few that ask why — those that refuse to vote the party line and to perpetuate constant gridlock. We must ask why over and over again. Why do we continue to allow our jobs to be given away for the profit of the few?

Our middle class is in a race to the bottom with the working class people of the world. Nothing against them, but as a member of the American middle class I am not ready or willing to make one of the largest wealth transfers in history. I am not willing to support the continued enrichment of the 1% or the enrichment of the world at my own expense.

We are in a race to the bottom that will only plateau once we have fallen significantly and the rest of the world has risen to where labor rates and market saturation of want over need is balanced. That could take another generation or two.

To the middle class: our best days are ahead for most of us but only if we make changes now! We must make significant changes in our personal choices of lifestyle and demand public  transparency of both government and corporate transnational financial transactions.

In our personal lifestyle and professional choices: we must eliminate debt and we need to develop a menu of skills.

Eliminating debt will be bad for our economy. It could shrink our economy 15-20%. Get over it. Get on with it. Our current economic situation is longterm. There is no positive outcome on the horizon if we live as we currently do. Eliminate debt and restructure your life to be as debt-free and self-sustaining as possible. Thirty year mortgages are the road to serfdom. Renting is not a great plan either in many cases. If you have to buy strive for less and strive for shorter term loans. Stop buying McCastles.

Income assurance: the American middle class has a significant challenge: it has few tangible skills.  Your/our entire education system is based upon managing the world around us. You need a menu of skills that are of value to others in your community. Ask yourself: if you were to lose your job today what service can you provide that others would be willing to pay for?

If you find the above question hard to answer then you are in trouble, deep, deep trouble. You not only need a skillset but a menu of skills; and each need their own hourly value. You need to start planning now for your life in the emerging American middle class — one that will be smaller, more agile, and which is our future already as of today.

To the 1%: I bear you no ill will. It is the nature of all survivable things to seek more efficient means to accumulate more value and more power. This always comes at the loss of something or someone else. You have existed always and always will.

To the 99%: Stop. Think. Avoid distractions. Do not attack the left or the right because you belong to the other. You will fail if you do. We will fail if you do.

To the 99%:  Seek to think objectively. Demand that our leaders put numbers to paper. DO NOT buy into promises of hope and change. DO NOT buy into claims that we can take our country back. It is far too late for that. Collaborating with the new owners because you believe it to be your patriotic duty to support amoral, apatriotic, anationalist accumulation of wealth only hastens the day when America is just another province of the world.

Money is power. America is just a politically defined flow of money. It was not the left or the communists or whomever you might wish to blame for America’s current economic woes. We have only ourselves to blame as we collaborate with the 1% — they will profit by it but we will not, not the majority of us. The wealth of the 1% is no longer American wealth. It is wealth that knows no country and offers no allegience to anything other than reinvestment at higher dividends. Do not be distracted by the presence of flags or invocations to protect our inherent rights as Americans. This is meaningless drivel to the 1% — which they will willingly sell to you as in ‘you too can be rich if you just try hard enough’, all the while flying as many flags as China can produce.

To those that are participating in Occupy Wall Street — you have my sympathies. To supporters of Occupy Wall Street that complain that no one is paying attention, did you notice that it was Fox News that provided you your first major coverage? And it is Fox News that continues to provide you the majority of coverage. You are the new distraction. The artificial debate created is whether you and the Tea Party are similar. It really does not matter. Your concerns are very similar. Your desire to blame someone other than yourself is the same.

Your anger is aimed in the right direction but I don’t believe that you have a plan. Your rage is just as controlled and directed and manipulated as is that of the Tea Party. Do not be useful tools.

The American middle class as we know it will die a protracted death over the next 10-20 years. Suburbia and all of its trappings will soon enough be very different. The new middle class will be much smaller. It already is. I cannot think of a practical way to stop this, or to advise you how you could stop this future from arriving. It is after all already here. America 1950 will be completely gone by 2030, and in 2030 we will be talking about the middle class that emerged from 2007.

Be slow to anger and swift to thought. Only some will win. The battle is for the few and will be won by the few that win the hearts and minds of the distracted many.


>> What the middle class of the world may look like by 2025.

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15 Comments

Filed under Economics, Future

15 responses to “Dear America – About the 1%, 53%, 99%, Class Warfare, Occupy Wall Street and …

  1. Well said… The future is neither better nor worse, it is simply different.

    But… It’s always been that way. Those who embrace and profit from it will be the winners. Those who don’t will be the whiners.

  2. George S. Harris

    Such a terrible grim prediction for the future. I like to think we are better than what you say we will become. Yes, globalization has changed how wealth is generated and how it is distributed, but are you saying that we will simply have the very rich (the 1%) and whatever you want to call the rest of us drones? Isn’t that what creates revolutions? I think it is true that we can’t “take our country back” but we can change it for the better. Big companies are finding out that off-shoring everything has a price and that price is climbing sufficiently that there is a swing to return to the U.S. Yes, different skill sets may be required, which means the education system needs to be working to discover those skill sets and then educate or reeducate folks so they are prepared for the gradual return of “work” to here.

    So I don’t know if I will be one of the “winners” as Al defines them, but I sure ain’t one of the whiners either.

    • The challenge is that the middle class represent shopkeepers and management. The size of the middle class will depend upon whatever there is left to manage which will be appreciably less than today.

      As for shopkeeping, the Japanese probably represent our future as shopkeepers. There are few megastores in Japan. Even the large chains are small as to actual store size. When you want to buy a car you do not go to a dealership, although there are auto dealers. Japanese businesses have learn to think small to maintain costs. Large item dealerships — like autos and appliances — have representative models on hand for you to test drive or to touch and to feel, but you order your big box item from a catalogue and it is delivered to you. This keeps costs low and overhead minimal.

      I am not happy about how I see the world evolving. I am just observing how I believe it will evolve.

  3. I just watched a commercial on MS NBC TV (literally right now… I like Chuck Todd), “Save money… Live better… WalMart.” Am I the only one to see the irony?

  4. I think the 1% are them selves struggling to understand the nature of the world of 2020 and beyond. They have been doing things in the “old” way for so long and have handed down the principles of wealth as seen in that old way but now the world changes so fast and markets fail in weeks not years. New markets rise in months and not years. The speed of information and the flow of communication have disrupted the process.

    The future of the middle class is not in spending less it is in joining the 1% in learning how to leverage a global economy in personal finance. It is in being a global middle class not a single nation. Diversification of personal assets across national lines. And naturally there are new businesses popping into existence to assist the new global middle class in doing just that.

    • I agree very strongly that the American middle class’ future is in ‘…how to leverage a global economy in personal finance. It is in being a global middle class not a single nation.’

      That assumes that they have time to leverage. That assumes that they have disposable income and opportunity to get into the world economy. Unfortunately it will be the few with this opportunity. There are continuing signficant downward pressures on income and ‘getting involved’ means really jumping into the stock market. Whether some of the market analysts are right or not that the stock market of the next 10 years will show little return for most investments, we certainly know that those invested in 2000 had far less in 2010.

      It is a challenge that we must rise to. Some will. Few can.

      • I does assume that because those who manage time and invest-able income will succeed and thus become the new globalized middle class. Those that don’t will sink into the new working class. And a few with the right decisions at the right points with some luck will also rise to the 1%.

        Getting involved does not necessarily mean the stock market. It can be real estate in growing or developing nations. It can be development of new technology, services, etc. It does not mean only the abstracted markets. Real goods are by nature more profitable then the speculative investment in the futures of companies that produce real goods.

  5. ck

    During industrial times there was a phenomenon called the “invisible hand” of the market place where the desires of both the buyer and seller played a see-saw-like checks and balances role that allowed the economy to grow and thrive. That was when all industry was in the U.S. and we bought “American.”
    Now, however, the economy is “global,” so if the theory of the “invisible hand” is still seen as existing, it applies to the whole world economy. This means that the wealth of the world will slowly be redistributed between new suppliers and consumers by the invisible hand and the new middle class will be a” global middle class,” not an American one. Companies are now transnational and although, yes, some of them are owned by individuals that make up the one percent, even more are faceless and nameless and owned by multiple stock holders and the main objective is to make money. It is cut and dry and black and white. What makes money is kept, what doesn’t is tossed out the door.
    When the invisible hand theory was first introduced, we were an industrial, goods producing country. With time, however, jobs shifted from goods creation to a new area–services. It is this service related job market that is largely called the middle class. Now that we have a world economy, the transnational companies found that they could pay less for services if they go to developing countries. With the internet and fiber optics this was easily made possible. The result, however, was that we lost jobs—“white collar” jobs. Transnational companies straddle multiple countries so there is not loyalty to sustain the economy in any one country. It is all about the bottom line, efficiency, and costs. People are mere numbers on a page to a corporation. Now the job market is making a shift to technological jobs. Technology is changing our consumption in America and increasing efficiency so that many jobs are no longer needed. This occurrence of jobs and services becoming extinct because of advancement has gone through several revolutions in our history. The railroad brought with it great changes and stage couches were gradually phased out with many other jobs. When the car was introduced at a price that the masses could buy, trains were used less. Atlantic City, NJ and some other seaside beaches were popular summer time areas and honeymoon spots because it was cool. Then air conditioning was invented and people could go many places to stay cool. Atlantic City—the original inspiration for the monopoly board—lost its population and had to reinvent itself as a gambling location.
    Now the internet and computers are changing the way that people access movies, how they read books, and do other activities such that big companies like Borders and Blockbuster are going bankrupt. Yes, America and the American economy are changing. But I think it is quite pessimistic to think that we can never regain an edge on the economy like we used to have. The key to our success is that which does not exist. What I mean by this is that innovation and creativity are key characteristics in American industry, science, and technology. New innovations from being able to reach beyond “what is” to new ideas that don’t exist yet, and then take the steps to make them a reality is a strength of America. We teach our children to read and write, but we also teach them strategic thinking and creative thinking skills. Steve Jobs was one of these great innovators and there are many other creative forces in the U.S. like him that may be working on tomorrow’s equivalent of the internet.

  6. Lyndon Johnson’s recollection seems to support one of your points:

    “When I was young, poverty was so common that we didn’t know it had a name.”
    Lyndon B. Johnson

  7. What do you think about the new efforts to get money out of politics? Some people have proposed a constitutional amendment that would remove the ability of unions and businesses to donate to political campaigns. I personally would love some way to get rid of lobbying at the same time, but I don’t know if that is possible.

    The government hasn’t been responsive to the voters’ interests for more than 30 years. Could removing money from politics get us back to a real democracy?

    • I sincerely doubt that we will get money out of politics. Any attempt at a constitutional amendment is also bound to fail. Both major parties thrive off of this money — and there is almost no difference in the two parties as to the quantity of money received from special interests and corporations.

      You can track who gets money from whom at OpenSecrets.org

      As for the government being responsive, it probably will not be until we have a thriving center within our political spectrum.

      >> Democrats have eliminated almost everything conservative from their party, and there are very few Blue Dogs left.

      >> Republicans have become so fanatical about RINO hunting that even Ronald Reagan seems liberal these days, and would definitely have been labeled as a RINO.

      The center creates balance because neither left nor right can win anything without some form of compromise — essential to get center votes. Unfortunately both parties have worked hard — and largely succeeded — in decimating their more moderate membership in the hopes of strengthening each respective party.

      Removing money would be one approach but it just won’t happen.

      As I see it, transparency is the answer. Make all monetary contributions public information available within seven days of contribution. Put it on the web. Don’t let it be hidden in paper-bound registries that require people to go see. The parties would quake at this. It just may however survive a First Amendment challenge. Since we have no right to privacy then perhaps transparency could survive a freedom of speech challenge since it does not inhibit speech; it just records it.

      • I disagree that a constitutional amendment would fail – but you have to get people from both parties demanding it. There is an amendment introduced in both houses of Congress right now – unfortunately, it’s supported only by Democrats. I definitely agree it will end up failing unless conservatives take up the charge themselves.

        As for transparency/disclosure – I think that was covered by the Citizens United case, wasn’t it? They certainly began allowing the anonymous donations to superPACs after Citizens. Do you think that SCOTUS would overturn that aspect if it were met with a legal challenge?

  8. Looking at the Miller-McCune article you linked – it appears the “illegal immigration” problem will cure itself – when Mexico emerges as one of the top economies decades down the road. Interesting.

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