"Every single empire, in its official discourse, has said that it is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort." --" Edward Said
The increasingly fragile American Empire has been built on a foundation of lies. Lies we tell ourselves and Big lies spread by our government. The sh*t is so deep you can stir it with a stick. As we enter another holiday season the mainstream corporate mass media will relegate you to the status of consumer. This is a disgusting term that dehumanizes all Americans. You are nothing but a blot to corporations and advertisers selling you electronic doohickeys that they convince you that you must have. Propaganda about consumer spending being essential to an economic recovery is spewed from 52 inch HDTVs across the land, 24 hours per day, by CNBC, Fox, CBS and the other corporate owned media that generate billions in profits from selling advertising to corporations schilling material goods to thoughtless American consumers. Aldous Huxley had it figured out decades ago:
"Thanks to compulsory education and the rotary press, the propagandist has been able, for many years past, to convey his messages to virtually every adult in every civilized country."
Americans were given the mental capacity to critically think. Sadly, a vast swath of Americans has chosen ignorance over knowledge. Make no mistake about it, ignorance is a choice. It doesn't matter whether you are poor or rich. Books are available to everyone in this country. Sob stories about the disadvantaged poor having no access to education are nothing but liberal spin to keep the masses controlled. There are 122,500 libraries in this country. If you want to read a book, you can read a book. The internet puts knowledge at the fingertips of every citizen. Becoming educated requires hard work, sacrifice, curiosity, and a desire to learn. Aldous Huxley describes the American choice to be ignorant:"Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know."
It is a choice to play Call of Duty on your PS3 rather than reading Shakespeare. It is a choice to stand on a street corner looking for trouble rather than reading Hemingway. It is a choice to spend Black Friday in malls fighting other robotic consumers for iSomethings, the latest innovative, advanced TVs, flashy Rolexes, and ostentatious Coach bags rather than spending the day reading Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, a brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning history of the outset of World War I, which would provide insight into what could happen on the Korean Peninsula. It is a choice to watch 6 hours per day of Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, Brainless Housewives of Everywhere, or CSI of Anywhere rather than reading Orwell or Huxley and discovering that their dystopian warnings have come true.Conspicuous Consumption Conquistadors
Americans have chosen to lie to themselves. They have persuaded themselves that buying stuff with plastic cards while paying 19% interest for eternity, driving BMWs while locked into never ending indecipherable lease schemes, and living in permanently underwater McMansions bought with 0% down on an interest only liar loan, is the new American Dream. They think watching the boob tube will make them smart. They soak in the mass media hype, misinformation and lies like lemmings walking off a cliff. Depending on their political predisposition, they watch Fox or MSNBC and unthinkingly believe the propaganda that pours from the mouths of the multi-millionaire talking heads who read Teleprompters with words written by corporate media hacks. They tell themselves that buying stuff on credit, giving them the appearance of success as measured by the media elite, is actually success. This is a bastardized, manipulated, delusional version of accomplishment. Americans have chosen to believe the lies because the truth is too hard to accept.
Becoming educated, thinking critically, working hard, saving money to buy what you need (as opposed to what you want), developing human relationships, and questioning the motivations of government, corporate and religious leaders is hard. It is easy to coast through school and never read a book for the rest of your life. It is easy to not think about the future, your retirement, or the future of unborn generations. It is easy to coast through life at a job (until you lose it) that is unchallenging, with no desire or motivation for advancement. It is easy to make your everyday troubles disappear by whipping out your piece of plastic and acquiring everything you desire today. If your brother-in-law buys a 7,000 sq ft, 7 bedroom, 4 bath, 3 car garage, monolith to decadence for his family of 3, thirty miles from civilization, with no money down and a no doc Option ARM providing the funds, why shouldn't you get in on the fun. It's easy. Why sit around the kitchen table and talk with your kids, when you can easily cruise the internet downloading free porn or recording every trivial detail of your shallow life on Facebook so others can waste their time reading about your life. It is easiest to believe your elected leaders, glorified mega-corporation CEOs, and millionaire pastors preaching the word of God for a "small" contribution to their mega-churches.
Americans love authority figures who act as if they have all the answers. It matters not that these egotistical monuments to folly and hubris (Bush, Obama, Paulson, Geithner, Greenspan, Bernanke) have committed the worst atrocities in the history of our Republic, leaving economic carnage and the slaughter of thousands in their wake. The most dangerous man on this earth is an Ivy League educated, arrogant ideologue who believes they are smarter than everyone else. When these men achieve power, they are capable of producing catastrophic consequences. Once they seize the reigns of authority these amoral psychopaths have no problem lying to the American public in order to achieve their objectives. They know that Americans love to be lied to, so the bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed.
The current lie proliferating across the land of the free financing and home of the debtor is that austerity has broken out across the land. The mainstream media and the government, aided by various "think tanks" and Federal Reserve propagandists insist that Americans have buckled down, reduced spending, increased savings, and have embraced austerity.
Austerity Circa 2010
A huge queue of shoppers waiting to get into Target during the 2010 Black Friday consumer-feeding frenzy. (source)
They now proclaim that it is time to spend again. It is the patriotic thing to do, just like defeating terrorists by buying an SUV with 0% down from GM was the patriotic thing to do after 9/11. Defeating terrorists by going further into debt was the brilliant idea of those Ivy League geniuses Bush & Greenspan. Let's critically examine the facts to determine how austere Americans have become:
- Consumer credit outstanding is $2.41 trillion, the same level reached in early 2007, and up from $1.5 trillion in 2000. This is a 60% increase in ten years. Personal income has risen from $8.4 trillion to $12.6 trillion over this same time frame, a 50% increase. Americans have substituted debt for income in order to keep up with the Joneses. The mass delusion lives.
- The MSM declares that the reduction in overall consumer debt from its peak of $2.56 trillion in 2008 to $2.41 trillion today proves that consumers have been cutting back and paying off debt. This is another media lie. Non-revolving debt, which includes car loans, education loans, mobile home loans and boat loans sits at $1.6 trillion, an all-time high matched in 2008. Credit card debt has "plunged" from $957 billion to $814 billion, not because consumers paid down their balances. The mega Wall Street banks have written off $20 billion per quarter since early 2009, accounting for ALL of the reduction in credit card debt. Clueless consumers continue to charge at the same rate as the peak in 2008.
- Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,788
- There are 609.8 million bank credit cards held by U.S. consumers.
- The U.S. credit card default rate is 13.01%
- In 2006, the United States Census Bureau determined that there were nearly 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the U.S. A stack of all those credit cards would reach more than 70 miles into space --" and be almost as tall as 13 Mount Everests.
- Penalty fees from credit cards added up to about $20.5 billion in 2009.
- The national average default rate as January 2010 stood at 27.88% and the mean default rate is 28.99%.
- Total bankruptcy filings in 2009 reached 1.4 million, up from 1.09 million in 2008. Bankruptcies in 2010 are on pace to exceed 1.6 million.
- 26% of Americans, or more than 58 million adults, admit to not paying all of their bills on time. Among African-Americans, this number is at 51%.
This data clearly proves that austerity has not broken out across the land of delusion. The billions in consumer loan write-offs by the Wall Street banks that run this country have masked the fact that Americans have not cut back on their spending habits at all. GMAC (taxpayer owned) and Ford Credit continue to dish out car loans to anyone with a pulse and a 600 credit score. The Federal Reserve and the FASB have encouraged, if not insisted, that banks fraudulently value the commercial real estate loans on their books. The Federal Reserve has bought $1.5 trillion of toxic mortgage loans from the criminal Wall Street banks at 100 cents on the dollar. The government's corporate fascist public relations firms then spread the big lie that the economy is recovering and consumers should join the party and spend, spend, spend.
If Americans were capable or willing to do some critical thinking, they would realize that those in power have created the illusion of a recovery by handing $700 billion of your money to the banks that created the financial meltdown, spending $800 billion on worthless pork barrel projects borrowed from future generations, dropping interest rates to 0% so that the mega-Wall Street banks can earn billions risk free while your grandmother who depended on interest income from her CDs edges closer to eating cat food to get by, and lastly Ben Bernanke's blatant attempt to enrich Wall Street by buying US Treasury bonds in an effort to make the stock market go up, while the middle and lower classes are crushed under the weight of soaring fuel and food price increases that exceed 30% on an annual basis. The illusion of recovery is not a recovery. With a true unemployment rate of 22%, a true inflation rate of 8% and a real GDP of -1.5% (Shadowstats), we are in the midst of the Greater Depression. You are being lied to, but most of you prefer it.