Friday, June 1, 2012

The Unspoken Message

 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath--Matthew 13:12

  In the 19th century, America was agricultural and most folks knew how to grow vegetables and raise chickens. In the 20th, America was industrial and countless shade tree mechanics tinkered with machines. Today, in the 21st century, America is financial--and people can barely reconcile their checkbooks, let alone wise up to what’s happening on Wall Street.
    Given our dismal knowledge of the dismal science, we are suckers for trash talk about economics. Politicians right and center and pundits corporate and conservative batter us daily with nonsense about the money and how it gets used and abused.               

    Though it all sounds confounding (confusion helps keep us docile), there is a constant but unspoken central message at work: the rich don’t have enough while the rest of us have too much.  This message cannot be openly proclaimed because it doesn’t sound right or proper. Willard Romney or Obama buddy Robert Wolf can’t just announce that they’re depending on the sacrifices of ordinary Americans to make them richer. At least, they can’t say it quite yet.
    Nevertheless, that goal is the main reason why Wall Street and its rented pols in Washington do what they do. Take any of the economic issues in the news: there’s debt (though only government debt is defined as a danger), there are bank bailouts, there’s the ongoing Fed gift of free money to big-time stock and bond players, there’s austerity, there’s ‘entitlement’ reform, there’s rewriting our tax system, and, as ever, there’s beefing up our military.         

    The CEOs, senators, tea baggers and such we hear raising alarms about this stuff like to affect an air of civic responsibility. They’re forever warning us about the awful price our kids and kids’ kids will pay for our profligacy unless we get our finances in order. Carefully unmentioned is that each of the items above is, in fact, designed to make our progeny poorer. For it turns out, on the even slightest examination, that they are nothing more than schemes to transfer wealth from the bottom, middle and top to the top of the top. 
    For instance, our debt will impoverish our kids only if they keep paying it off to wealthy creditors who keep producing ever more of it. For instance, our military burden will keep growing only if we keep playing the imperial game.
    Like our obesity epidemic, our economic situation is not complicated and has a simple solution. For the former, it’s eat less and better food and exercise more.  For the latter, it’s spread the wealth.
    Unfortunately, the simple solutions are often the hardest to do.