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Debt. It's Better Than Chains.

By       Message Vi Ransel     Permalink
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Debt.   It's Better Than Chains.

American workers exist under a "higher" form of enslavement than chattel slavery, a more comfy CAFO, or confinement operation.  The illusion of freedom is created and maintained simply by "giving" us a teeny tiny share of the value/wealth we create with our labor. 

We then take that paltry remnant of the value of what we produce and use it for necessities like food, shelter, healthcare and transportation, all paid, of course, to other owners who are running the same CAFO scam on their workers.  For instance, Master A owns a lettuce farm and pays workers to pick the lettuce.  They use that money to buy, among other things, gas from Master B to put into their cars and go back to work for Master A.  Master B's workers at the gas station or petroleum facility, who are also paid as little as possible, use their pittance to purchase the lettuce picked by Master A's workers.  And so the money Master A paid out to his workers is recycled back to him.  In this way, the Masters enrich each other without actually have to own us outright, which entails providing room and board.   

But more and more of our inadequate share of the value we produce is "needed" by the Masters.  To that end we are induced/seduced into spending not only for things we need, but to fulfill wants the Masters pay advertisers and doctors of psychology to create for us: mass-produced "designer" clothing, sports merchandise, electronic trinkets, SUVs, big-screen plasma HDTVs, cosmetics, sodas, chips, alcohol, tobacco, high fructose corn syrup/heroin, unlabeled, genetically-rearranged "foods", refined-white-to-a-nutritionless-blob carbohydrates, hormone, antibiotic and pesticide-infused animal body parts, and all manner of myriad, useless consumer fluff up to and including resin gnomes from China.

Further, workers are told, and many believe, that they are the beneficiaries of American "freedom" and "democracy".  However they fail to notice the qualifying adjective used in front of the words "freedom" and "democracy" - economic.  This gives them the "freedom" to buy/charge whatever they want.  And they all, that's the democracy part, have this "freedom."  And that's about as free and democratic as it ever gets.

Things like community, healthcare, education, and the maintenance of those roads we travel to work on are allowed to deteriorate to the point where they are so worn out that the Masters can finally make us an offer we can't refuse.  They will buy these things outright, community included, fix them up - as cheaply as possible - and make them private, for-profit businesses.  Just as the majority of hospitals are now for-profit, roads will become private, profit-making toll roads, schools will be pay-as-you go institutions, and even community will be relegated to Facebook and other virtual intimacy peddlers that stand between flesh-and-blood human beings.  And we'll pay handsomely for this.  In more ways than one.

But still, we've got "freedom" and "democracy" here in America.  We're still free to buy/charge the products we have so cheaply made for us in East Asia with no costly quality or safety checks implemented.  We're still free to democratically buy unregulated, uninspected pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, cleaners, toiletries, toys, pet foods and more that our Masters, in their free market wisdom, import - with no tax on them - from their non-union, FDA-less, OSHA-free subcontractors in China.

And all this is made possible just by downsizing and outsourcing our jobs in order that the Masters can take an even bigger share of the wealth created by labor.  But what happens when the Chinese laborers demand a little bitty bit of a raise to live just a tad above subsistence?  Where will the Masters find cheaper labor than in China?  Soon goods will have to be made by robots and specially-trained chimps.  But the Masters will still have to pay someone to do the maintenance on the robots and the training, care and feeding of the chimps.  That's the fly in the soup.  The Masters just can't convince stuff to make itself so they can sell it and pocket the cash.  They still need us damn workers to do the work.  Then we have the nerve to demand to be paid for it!    And the Masters certainly wouldn't stoop to doing the work, even if they could possibly do it all by themselves, self-made men that they all are.  And further, if the Masters don't pay workers, who, pray tell, will create the demand for the products?  That demand for products by workers constitutes over 70% of the US Gross Domestic Product.  What to do?  What to do?

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But wait.   When the Masters take too big a pig's share of the wealth created by labor, and raise prices for the products created to the point that the workers can hardly, even with their "generous" paychecks, afford the most basic necessities, those workers can also be "like totally" enslaved by debt.  The Masters can make them pay back not only the amount of money they borrow to live, but charge them enough usurious interest on it to force them to pay back two, three, four, five times what they borrowed.  And Congress won't put any limits on it!  Oh the glories of compound interest!  And then the Masters can slap them with late fees, X fees, Y fees, Z fees, fees for nothing.  Money for nothing.  Now, that's nirvana.  Sweet.  But what happens when all the money and the piddly little assets of the workers have been pilfered by the Masters?

Well then, I guess they'll just have to turn on one another.


"All for ourselves and nothing for other people seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind."

"People in the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment or diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."  

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Both quotes by Adam Smith, author of "The Wealth of Nations"


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Vi's works appear widely both in print and online. She conducts Poetry Workshops and gives readings in Central New York. Her latest chapbook is "Sine Qua Non Antiques (an Arcanum of History, Geography and Treachery).

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