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The Canary in the Coal Mine or The Shot Heard Round the World?

By       Message Jill Jackson     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 6/22/11

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"Austerity".    It has a nice ring to it, evoking images of stoic families bonding together during the Depression and World War II to "help the boys" overseas and defeat the Axis villains threatening King and Country.   Buck up, tighten our belts, give up the butter and sugar, and soon we'll all be celebrating V-J Day and looking forward to another fifty years of prosperity ahead.

Uh-uh.    This is a different war, and we're on the losing side this time. This is a war between entitled, rapacious narcissists and sociopaths, and the other 90% of the world they are seeking to indenture and enslave.   No, friends, we're not "millionaires just going through a rough patch". We're the intended victims, with targets on our backs. Why?   Because we no longer have any value as commodities for corporate oligarchs who see themselves as being better than the rest of humanity and the world.   The battlefields are our pilloried economies, strafed and carpet-bombed by capitalist exploitation.

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Over the past century, our relative prosperity in the First World was, to a great extent, tied to the covenant between employers and workers.   Workers would produce the products needed for sale so that the employers could make a reasonable profit selling the products to a reasonably paid core of consumers. In exchange, the employers would provide a livable income, health insurance, job security, and a comfortable retirement. The system was balanced and synergistic.

Then, deregulation gave carte blanche to unbridled capitalism, opening Pandora's Box, and releasing the demons of avarice and promoting insatiable greed as "good".   The first step was the "outsourcing' and "offshoring' of manufacturing and production to other countries where labor costs were a fraction of those in the First World. In the short run, our shores were flooded with cheaply made, "affordable" goods and products and services.   Low prices allowed Americans to indulge their own whetted appetites as rabid consumers, fueling the US economy.    This phase resulted in an uneasy truce of negotiated concessions with the corporate oligarchy to maintain social programs and a safety net to keep the working and middle classes afloat.

With the decimation of job opportunities in the US and Europe over the past twenty years, more and more First World employees have found themselves out of work and in dire straits.   They have fallen deeply in debt, and lacking the disposable income to feed the consumer economy, no longer able to play the consumer card to negotiate employer concessions.   As our financial health has deteriorated, there has been growth in disposable income in many of the countries where corporations have moved their bases.

If consumers in the US and Europe don't have dollars or euros to spend anymore, there are plenty of yuan, rupees, dirhams, and pesos that can fill the coffers and raise the bottom line. First world citizens are no longer necessary in this most recent capitalist paradigm.   They are not only superfluous, but a burden to the corporate oligarchy that no longer needs them either as workers or consumers. Hopes that our own human needs might be addressed, personally and professionally, are rapidly fading. The oligarchy would have no regrets if we continued to devolve into indentured servitude, or even death.   In fact, this devolution may be the intended outcome of recent globalist policies.

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The events in Greece are yet another example of this alarming change. To illustrate the process of corporate "smash and grab", we can try this analogy:

You've inherited a house. It's a very, very nice little house, with two cats in the yard,   etc.    You're the poor kid on the block, especially because you're only able to get a part-time job at minimum wage. To help with expenses for food and utilities, you've rented a room to a colleague, who is also scraping together enough cash for the monthly payment.   You're not 'living large', but your modest lifestyle is stable.

Unfortunately, everyone else on your block has mansionized their bungalows. Frustrated that your house might be negatively affecting their property values and their view, a few of your neighbors and their lawyers form a homeowners' association. They pressure you to upgrade your home, threaten to sue, and offer to lend you five hundred thousand dollars at usurious interest rates so you can upgrade your home to a mansion, and fit in with the rest of the street.   Meanwhile, your job prospects haven't changed. How will you ever pay the loan back?

"Tut-tut,"   say the magnanimous lawyers and bankers. "Don't worry, you will."

You are seduced by the chance to build a luxurious home, and begin the construction. Your contractors are quick to seize the opportunity to pad their own nest eggs and skim their cuts off the top, stashing the funds in their own upscale neighborhoods, or perhaps in a Cypriot or Swiss bank. The remaining $250,000 gets you a home that's twice its previous size, but still not up to the "standards" of the neighborhood.   Meanwhile, your low-wage, part-time   job, no longer covers the higher maintenance costs, taxes, and utilities, much less the loan payments coming due.

Now the fun begins.    The charming bankers, and their legal and political mercenaries, bang at your door for collections. They know you can't pay. They've known it all along. Their endgame had a different purpose.

As missed payments accrue, they step in to "help", demanding, for example, that you start charging your tenant much more than he can pay. Your tenant is soon forced out on the street. You yourself desperately try to find resources to feed the wolf at the door. You use candles instead of electricity, and shower only once a week. But these humiliating life compromises hardly make a dent in the amount due.

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You try to find a second or third job. Record-high unemployment precludes any possibility of earning significant additional income. Sooner, rather than later, you default, and join your former boarder in the ranks of the homeless, while your rich neighbors take over your house and enjoy the spoils of your spoiled life.

One might argue that your actions might be partly responsible for this terrible outcome.    You (Greek politicians) shouldn't have consented to the loan in the first place.    But, the pressures from the homeowners' association (the European Union) were brutal and hard to resist. Your neighbors and their financial and legal mercenaries bear a significant amount of the blame for what ensued. Even more so if their true goal was to ensure their full control over your property (your banks, airports, ports, utilities, transportation, and even your islands).

As for the "crooked contractors", clearly they should be prosecuted and the stolen funds returned to you and your creditors.   Right?     Alas, in this Greek scenario, they get a "pass". Instead, the bankers are demand their pound of flesh from your innocent tenant (workers and retirees), and, asking him to pay for the crimes of the corrupt thieves.

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Jill Jackson is a writer, mother, wife, military veteran, and hard-core pacifist and liberal. She swallowed the red pill after 9/11.

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