Tag Archives: Inequality

Robber Barons Revenge

LA Market

A Little Fixer Upper for the Newly Minted Upper Lowers

Thomas Picketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century published down the rabbit hole of 2013 quantified capital’s relentless advantage over labor. The book researched and factually illustrated that the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of return on output. In other words the rich always get richer.

And down another rabbit hole was instantly vanished vast sums due to 2008’s global financial crisis. In one day Congress gave our banks more money than had ever been given over the span of a hundred years to poverty programs. God and Congress saved the Hampton’s, helicopters and whore houses. One out of three ain’t bad.

The whole Brexit thing was related to ordinary citizens living outside London having had their fill of the consortium of international bankers holed up in the City of London from relentlessly plucking their pocketbooks with the cooperation of a bought and paid for just down the River Thames Parliament. The populist’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were both dead and never were as charming as Paul Newman or Robert Redford. The ever charming actor Ronald Reagan and Britain’s Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher are Sun City’s poster children for the Gilded Age’s resuscitation.

Camera 360

Betting the House…

Unemployment was epidemic, millions of homes foreclosed, bankruptcies skyrocketed and drug abuse, suicide and shiftlessness were synonymous with the new millennium’s urban chic. As implosions go this was a doozy, as in Neo-Duesenbergian excess.

Our French scholar dude- Picketty- had the temerity to suggest that since capital was so muscularly advantaged in the acquisition of wealth over labor that the best way to address this bully’s advantage was through the progressive taxation system that had served the free world so well since last we visited capitalism’s long lost Uncle Dave Depression of misery in the 1930’s.

To extinguish the fires of civil discord from our previous Gilded Age Teddy Roosevelt gathered the robber barons— banging their heads together until sense was made and a solution was agreed upon— that a redistributive progressive taxation system would be created to fund a social safety net so that when capitalism developed the inevitable wobbles there would be some modest stabilizers there to help and support the citizens of a country from certain misery and deprivation. If the robber barons would not block the creation of the social welfare programs our leaders would not block capitalism to run ahead at a good pace, not too fast so as to cause speculative bubbles and depressions, but fast enough to create growth while tolerating the inevitable recessionary downturns, more akin to an accident than a full catastrophe. Hence, in 1914 the creation of our Federal Reserve Bank System.

So here we are. Progressive taxation is threadbare, the social safety net is in tatters, and our latest crop of robber barons emboldened as ever desperate to horde every newly minted dime claiming the lion share of profit as their destiny and the resulting poverty their greed causes as the fault of the shiftless ungrateful rabble living just beyond their security gates.

Our politics and peace is at risk for the odd stalemated and captured bifurcated duopoly called the two party system. We have somewhere in our history chosen to layer democracy atop capitalism and ever since the two systems coexist in skirmish and dis-ease. The latest win in Congress for our oligarchs is a loss for the vast majority. The resulting size and scale of the inevitable wave heading toward the election in November 2018 remains for history to tell. This isn’t money as speech, this is overreach as blowback. I can hear the bugles, see the pitchforks- I can  imagine a progressive tax system being reinstated. The challenge to the working class has been joined.

working class heros

Enjoying the Spoils of Roosevelt’s Victory

Against the Grain

barn

The Next Steps

The current novel I am drafting is set in Napa County. Climate change, inequality and the health of of both the people and environment is under stress. Studying groundwater levels, fish extinction events, the alarming increase of childhood cancer rates (the highest in any county in California) has been painful to acknowledge. There has been a loss of innocence in my life. County officials in lockstep with the biggest agricultural corporations in the valley dictate what does and doesn’t happen here. The climate is changing, the available water has all been claimed. It is a jewel of a county and California’s smallest. It has grown into a world class international tourist destination. Both businesses and visitors clamor to come here and get a piece of the action. A wide array of community organizations are struggling to slow the rapid rate of growth. We’ll need more soul searching to bridle the billion dollar corporations that find sustainability issues irrelevant to their business plans. The struggle to thwart the rich and powerful from reining down ruin upon this world class destination falls upon the ordinary citizens who live here. Tough stuff… now with the changes in Washington DC the mood of the country seems to have turned against any further supervision or regulation of this great treasure the gods have handed to us. So, yes, I am the loyal opposition. Good ideas I’ll cooperate with and bad ideas I’ll resist. This is where we find out if we can save the world…