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The New American Economy -- Good Luck!

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As we keep rehashing the same old debates in Washington and elsewhere, we have all become complicit in a lie that we feel we must convince ourselves is true. That this capitalist system we endure today can survive. Indeed, like many a poor doctor, we try to treat the symptoms because we have either misdiagnosed the problem or simply have no way to address the disease. The disease that capitalism, as we know it, is dying.

It is a slow death for sure. It is not something that will happen suddenly (barring a Zombie Apocalypse) nor is it something that will happen completely. There will always be markets but our current economic system is going to fail us. It has been failing us for decades already and it is only going to get worse.

When we think back on the most recent stock market crashes, what does not stand out is the corruption. There have always been schemers out there who figure out ways to make a lot of money by selling something that has no real value. Nor is it surprising that our emotional stock market's prices had grown to be way out of line with the real value of the stocks offered. This has always happened. It is the nature of the beast which we depend on way too much.

Instead, what does stand out is that nearly all the growth of the US economy since the 1980's has been fictional. Indeed, those good years in the 1990's were largely fueled by the unrealistic and unfulfilled expectations of the emerging technology sector. Sure, a few companies would eventually emerge as economic powerhouses, but one has to consider that even though they have some financial might, they employ relatively few people. They are in many respects multinational small businesses. Their financial good fortunes affect a very small group of people and, consequently, their impact on the overall economy is minimal.

In the last decade, we were treated to less of a collapse than a brutal reality check. Americans growing up in families with parents who had succeeded and bought houses and kept jobs expected they would do just as well themselves -- if not better. As children, they witnessed their parents working hard, advancing in their careers and making more money. They naturally assumed that their lives would follow a similar arc. They bought homes that were too expensive, but they assumed since they worked hard, they would be making more money soon enough. The people who gave them the loans had the same assumptions. Similarly, all those schemers on Wall Street who sold those mortgages figured that real estate would keep going up. After all, real estate had been rising their entire lives. It was as sure a bet as spring following winter. Nobody was telling the home buyer that his expectations of as good a life as his parents was unrealistic. No one was saying that the housing market was extremely overpriced. Nobody was saying that the real economy was far behind Wall Street.

Not surprisingly, our increasingly corrupt and corporatized government reacted to the crash like governments always do. They stuck some bubble gum in the biggest leaks, repaired the engine with a blunt hammer, put a little duct tape on the exhaust and sent it merrily on its way. They say, "We have hit bottom now. Things will get better now. It always has."

Nothing could be further from the truth. By interfering to save the big banks, we have preserved the system which has failed us and will fail us again. I know that gets said a lot but it usually gets said for all the wrong reasons. The real reason is that corporate capitalism, which in the past centuries has brought us some progress, is now unfit and unable to serve humanity.

What?! You say. Is this some leftist rant?

Not at all.

I would never advocate the resurrection of communism. It deserves to be left in the past. What I think is apparent now, however, is that our form of capitalism will soon join it.


The very nature of the beast relies on the unrealistic principle of endless growth. For the last couple of centuries, the Earth was abundant with resources, the people were always hungry for more and there was always more to be done. Capitalism did pretty well for itself. There were a couple of busts here and there, not to mention wars, but overall, we progressed and even prospered a little. Still, the question everyone seems afraid to ask is how much of those above conditions still exist?



Over the last two centuries, exploitation companies had it not only good, but great. The Earth was filled to the brim with untapped, easy to get, natural resources. They had virgin forests, oil reserves literally in people's back yards and mineral deposits just below the surface. Now the forests are scarce and often defended by a slowly rising environmental movement.

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J.P. Whipple is a vagabond, outcast, sleeping in a truck and staving off starvation on the outskirts of the American Dream by playing music and selling books and other artworks. Among his chief hobbies is writing political and economic essays for (more...)
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