Sovereign debt and its corollary, the federal debt ceiling, is arguably an illusion. These operate in a macro context where valuation of wealth and debt are essentially illusions, or at the very least, manageable artifices.
What is not at all manageable, however, is internal debt and wealth inequality. Why? Because in the internal workings of our economy __ and those of most of the developed countries of the world __ ownership and control of wealth are reinforced by rigid and unforgiving legal authority. As is becoming increasingly evident, the laws of this country now serve a very wealthy elite __ a tiny slice of our 318,000,000 people __ at the expense of everyone else.
This is not the 1%.
We’re talking about the .1% and the .01% __ about 30,000 people __ the rich and powerful who actually run the country.
These are the folks you and I never see, because we can’t get within fifty miles of them.
These are the people who operate in a bubble of incomprehension, so detached from the realities of our “ordinary” lives, the basics of survival are about as apparent to them as the emotional life of a Cambodian weaver ant is to you and I.
These are the folks who will repossess your car, foreclose on your home, garnish your pay when you fall behind on your student loan, make it impossible to get an apartment or job for the horrible crime of falling behind on your credit card bills.
Home mortgage debt: $8.17 trillion.
Credit card debt: $3.34 trillion.
College loans: $1.2 trillion.
Auto loans: $955 billion.
Home equity loans: $550 billion.
Total household debt: $13.6 trillion!
The astonishing thing about all of this is that in the wealthiest nation in the world, none of this debt slavery is necessary. There is enough wealth to go around. We could all have the security and basic right to a minimum guaranteed income, a shared sense of community and country which would materialize from sharing our enormous resources and riches.
The ultra-rich could still live in splendor. After all, beyond a certain point, accumulation of money has no impact on the individual life style of a human being, no matter how absurdly rapacious that person is. More money just becomes a pathological numbers game.
How many Bentleys, private jets, wading pools full of caviar, diamond cuff links the size of grapefruits can you own?
I’ve referenced this in a prior blog. But it’s worth reviewing.
To spend the Koch brothers incomprehensible fortune at $10,000 per day, it would take almost 28,000 years __ it would be 29,394 C.E. when you finished your shopping spree.
Spending one million dollars a day, it would take 214 years to go through the monumental wealth of Gates.
The fortune of the Walton family __ owners of Wal-Mart __ totals more that the bottom 42% of Americans. One family has more money than 134,000,000 people.
This is insane.
This is the system we have in place.
This is what the laws of this country have cemented into our national landscape.
Wealth inequality on this level is inhumane and grotesque.
Worst of all __ and the subject of a whole other blog __ the economic infrastructure which locks in this kind of excessive capital aggregation is destroying our planet, and may lead to human extinction. I can’t improve on Naomi Klein’s lucid exposition of this, so I won’t try.
Just taking the narrow view of the social consequences, and the destructive impact wealth inequality has had on our democracy, we need to ask ourselves . . .
Is this sustainable?
One great thing about a rhetorical question is that the answer is so obvious, you don’t have to answer it.
But we certainly need to do something about it . . . before it’s too late.
Other than a handful of legislators __ Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren certainly are talking about it __ and our president who gives lip service to this critical issue, there is no one in public life who is serious about addressing this threat to our existence as a nation.
Just about everyone in elected office __ to a man, to a woman __ needs to go.
Stuffing them all in a massive launch vehicle for a mission to Mars might be too drastic. But getting them out of office and replacing them with officials who represent the needs and values of every American __ not just the privileged elite __ is not.
Just do it.
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