Reprocessing the Middle Class

Given I have firsthand experience of the reprocessing (term borrowed from my beloved brother known as Dragonstrand) of the middle class, I figured this post might carry some weight when taking into account the status quo for the vast majority of American citizens.  In a nutshell, I went from making at my peak $180,000 with bonus, to a three-year period of unemployment or no full-time job, to recently taking a night shift job making $11 dollars an hour with a huge corporation.  I still have two years of federal taxes to pay and over ten grand in credit card debt to pay off.  I have a few personal reasons for my predicament, but nothing that would realistically prevent me from landing a decent job at a decent wage relative to my experience and education.  I don’t really have any other options available.  I have tried to pull myself up and applied to over a thousand white-collar professional jobs during that three-year period, but I couldn’t secure a job offer despite over a decade of solid work experience and higher education from well-known undergraduate and graduate institutions.

The middle and upper middle class in America has been downsized and is being “reprocessed”.  To understand this phenomena one must agree to a fundamental principle.  Wealth, as measured by money, does not grow for the money supply in theory is constant.  Sure, those in charge of the money supply can print more money, but that simply waters down its assumed value and purchase power.  As such, wealth is merely lost by one and gained by another.  There is only one pie to cut up and serve.

 In the United States, the few have mastered the art of accumulating and taking more and more and more money away from the many.  No other developed nation has such an enormous gap between those few that have most and those many that have little.  The art the few have mastered to siphon money away from the majority centers on a multi-pronged strategy and a closely knit group in powerful positions in banking, Wall Street, venture capital, huge multinational corporations, media (advertising and marketing), and government (controlled by lobbyists and big campaign donors).

The only problem with their strategy is eventually the many have little left for the few to take and the well runs dry.  And when the well runs dry they have to figure out how to appease or deceive the mob to avoid a rebellion before they take their winnings and leave the country.  Currently, the power structure is employing delay tactics to avoid the inevitable – a revolution.  The game can best be described as kick the can.  Obama, a man of change, says the right things, but his actions are merely status quo.  And the republican presidential front-runner wants to return to the Reagan era where the wolves were set free.  The truth of the matter is that there is no way out given the current power structure.  Politics and your vote isn’t going to create any change to the fascist power complex.

My next several posts will summarize the multi-pronged strategy used by the few to siphon away money from the many.  Much of this has been discussed in this blog via previous posts, but I feel now is the time to re-iterate and summarize.  The upcoming election between a republican presidential candidate and Obama is all smoke and mirrors.  The game ahead of us is quite simply a game of kick the can.  We have reached the stage of no way out unless we are willing as a majority to make bold moves.  All that is really needed is an enlightened sense of what is and what will be if we do not act.  I am the farthest thing from a protestor or revolutionary and I have a son I dearly love, but if there is a movement with intelligent momentum, I would be willing to put all that matters in this one life on the line for the many that are yet to come.

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18 thoughts on “Reprocessing the Middle Class

  1. Important to note, however, the number of “the many” who facilitate, if not propagate, the siphoning towards “the few.” This phenomenon still bewilders me, those in need emphatically defending those who’ve never wanted. A socio-economic Stockholm Syndrome, to be sure.

    • Stockholm Syndrome is a great description of this phenomenon. Could it be, when you are cast down or out due to the financial harshness that exists where human beings are really viewed as economic units by the power complex, that the individuals that are cast down or out are made to feel like it is there fault? Could it be that one was brought up to believe if you live in America you can fulfill your dream if you work hard and if you fail it is because you are lazy and no good? Do the unemployed and underemployed or those that came unfortunately into the world impoverished lack confidence or hope and then made to feel worthless? I think this may be part of the explanation. I am just going off personal experience…having been on both sides of the equation.

  2. I lost your site somehow in my WordPress folder, I would only get the Wings Post, I fixed that now. Sorry for being away. I look forward to your next posts.

    If you create a spreadsheet with say twenty variables on the left hand side and two columns for Republican and Democrat, then do a line by line comparison, you will see that the two parties are almost identical despite all the hoorah about their differences. For instance, Iraq, Afghan, deficit spend, free trade, relations with China, policeman to the world, tax breaks for hand picked companies or industries, subsidize energy, they are all the same.

    Maybe this reflects “truth” and “real essence,” so there should be no differences except subtle ones. Or, it reflects collaboration, co-option, collusion. The case gets stronger for the latter as you see Wall Street banks have bought out both parties. Just go to Open Secrets to see how Wall Street giving goes to both sides in millions and millions. Chase loses $2 billion on a bad trade, bet, and speculation, and we still hear that regulating the banks is a bad idea.

    Wall Street has taken over America. So, the money printing machines will keep on printing, and the solution to debt will be more debt. And the merry round goes round and round.

      • Today, I see Obama criticizing Romney for running a vulture Hedge Fund in the 1990s called Bain. But this afternoon for dinner the President is at a fund raiser set up by Black Rock some big Wall Street firm. I think I have the right name. Anyway, Wall Street values have corrupted both parties. Jefferson, Jackson, FDR must be rolling in their graves.

      • His lunch or fundraiser today was with Blackstone. Here is the article. Good catch and timing Randel. What a mess.

        http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/05/obama-courts-private-equity-cash-at-new-york-fundraiser/

        here is the article from above link…very appropriate to your points and mine:

        “On the same day his campaign launched an attack on Mitt Romney‘s record in private equity, President Obama is attending a big-dollar fundraiser at the Manhattan home of one of the industry’s top figures.

        Hamilton “Tony” James — the president of the Blackstone Group, the nation’s largest private equity firm — is hosting a $35,800-a-head dinner for Obama, with 60 Democratic allies expected to attend, according to a campaign official. Many in attendance are expected to have ties to the private equity sector.
        James donated $35,800 — the legal maximum to Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee — in November 2011, according to Federal Election Commission filings. He was also a guest of the Obamas’ at the most recent White House state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron, joining more than three dozen of Obama’s campaign bundlers who also attended.

        The Obama campaign has been critical of other Blackstone executives — those who have donated to Mitt Romney’s campaign — accusing them of “betting against America” and doing “less-than-reputable” deals that resulted in outsourcing and layoffs. It has not singled out James for criticism, though the company profited from many of those practices under his leadership.
        “No one is questioning the private equity industry as a whole,” deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told reporters today. “This is about values Romney lived by as a businessman and the values he promises to live by as president,” she said.

        Before attending the James event, Obama will headline a fundraiser at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea with supporters from the LGBT and Latino communities, co-hosted by singer Ricky Martin.
        The roughly 200 guests for the event each paid $5,000 to attend, according to a campaign official. All proceeds from both fundraisers benefit the Obama Victory Fund — a joint account of the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and several state Democratic parties.”

  3. I find your candor appealing, Tincup, but I can’t agree with your pessimism about President Obama. I think he is a mature, thoughtful leader who represents a better choice for the country. I had occasion recently to reply to a die-hard “conservative” who felt Obama verged on the criminal and said this:

    I believe it is true that he wants “America to be just one nation among others”, and I support him in that. The opposite of that is to try to force other countries to be like us, including “nation-building”. That has gotten us into a lot of trouble. It did in Vietnam, in Iraq, and has now been going on for over 10 years in Afghanistan. I think it’s hubris to think that ours is the only model for the rest of the world and it is my experience that other cultures resent it when we try to remake them in our image, which is why it doesn’t work. For another example, look at Venezuela. That ugly-American image is why Hugo Chavez has been able to leverage his country’s cozy relationship with Castro and other anti-capitalistic regimes.

    Our military relationship with the U.N. has concerned me for a long time. However, I can think of no example of Obama subordinating us to the U.N. than any other president of either party. It has historically been a useful device to get some things done, but in others to get us into trouble. As a retired military officer I am very appreciative of the restraint Obama has shown in that regard. He’s gotten us out of Iraq as far as active military actions (although thanks to G.W.B., we’ll likely never be free of responsibility for it) and has laid out a plan to get out of Afghanistan. If you and jet don’t like those actions, then you and I have a real disagreement.

    When you speak of the “free market” you allude to something many conservatives see as an icon of purity that simply doesn’t exist any more than pure communism exists. Government regulation of markets has always been required, it’s simply a matter of how and how much. The housing debacle is a prime example of too little regulation and there are two more crises looming for the same reason: student loan debt and credit-card debt. Then, look at the BOA crisis in the headlines now. Same problem.

    Finally, the redistribution of wealth. Without government to attempt the regulation of commerce and to devise social programs we would have a country that looked a lot like the world Charles Dickens painted in “A Christmas Carol”, or the world of the Robber Barons of the 19th century. Maybe you and jet want to live in such a world, but not me. I want a society that places a minimal safety net under the unfortunate, the ill, and the elderly and just because we have a president who wants those things too doesn’t mean he hates capitalism or make us subservient to the U.N. That stuff is demagoguery.

    I guess I’m just wanting you to know that not everyone views the situation as hopeless as you do, although lord knows you’ve got good reason. I do hope your condition improves and I wish you the best.

    Jim Wheeler

    • Thank you Jim for sharing that piece directed toward a conservative. I find your points very sound. Your point on “nation building” was very interesting especially since you are a retired military officer. You probably have a clearer lens than most into our country’s foreign policy history. On the foreign policy front, I tend to narrow it all down to oil and the relationship between the oil and the dollar…or in other words the petro dollar theory or conspiracy if you will. Once the idea of backing the dollar with gold evaporated, it was replaced with a more logical assumed value — oil and commodities. As you know, these important items have to be bought in the USD which has given our nation incredible power when it comes to monetary policy. And when you follow the power structure of monetary policy, it leads to New York and the Federal Reserve…not Washington D.C. or the President of the United States.

      My main complaint or accusation leveled against Obama is that he has done nothing to break up the financial power that controls our country (and other countries!). He has appointed the same people appointed by past presidents in high powerful positions…people from Goldman Sachs. He (Obama) recently passed an IPO bill to REDUCE regulations on companies going public. The current social networking/media bubble is forming before us in the wide open with Facebook as the center piece yet Washington and our leaders are powerless to stop it. Billions of dollars will flow to the few and siphoned from the many via this social media/networking bubble. Meanwhile, the public’s attention is focused via the media on a republican versus democratic presidential election. Also, under Obama’s leadership, what criminal charges have been leveled against those that almost brought the banking system down? Sure, we have seen some fines that are peanuts compared to what these people made in bonuses and profits during the scam, but there hasn’t been any major legislation or criminal charges to change the financial death grip.

      The real power in this country resides with the Wall Street, huge multnational corporations, venture capital firms, banks, and the lobbyist mechanism is the tool to control the strings of government. Until that chain is broken via regulations and elimination of the lobbyist arm, it won’t matter who the people elect to the presidential office, the house, or the senate.

      My personal condition is tough right now, but the point is there are millions equal to or worse off than me. And, there are millions that are worse off than they yet realize or are willing to admit. Thanks for stopping by.

      A great movie to see is “Inside Job” narrated by Matt Damon. Another good documentary is “Too Big to Fail”. And finally, a really good documentary is “The Smartest Guys in the Room”. The cancer and corruption revealed in these three films still exists today. Not a damn thing has changed.

      • Always a pleasure to visit with a receptive and thoughtful mind. And, I do agree with you that corporate machinery has become alarmingly powerful. It is, I think, just what Eisenhower warned us of when he spoke of the “Military Industrial Complex”, but it’s even worse than that of course. Now we have Big Finance, Big Oil, Big Ag and the Medical Industrial Complex, and there is as you say a revolving door between D.C. and the executive suites of all of them. Yipes. I wish I knew the answer. However, between the two choices now available I think Obama the better one.

      • I think you are probably correct. Obama probably sees the only way to help mitigate the financial death grip is via higher taxation. I agree with him. Romney and what he stands for is simply business as usually with head buried in sand. But, I am afraid just raising taxes isn’t the answer. We have a huge base of uneducated people with closed minds easily manipulated by the media complex which is, of course, controlled by the big dollars held by the financial power structure already mentioned. Media entertainment, marketing, advertising, all forms of subtle brainwashing and part of the power complex’s prongs to siphon away money from the many.

        I would prefer higher local or state taxes and control of those dollars such that communities and states can be accountable for their decisions and well-being. Increasing the funds to the Federal government scares me because of their incompetence. It is just too big and no accountability. The plug is increased debt. Imagine if you could vote to raise your credit limit…or vote to increase the funds coming your way…this is the power the federal government has. And, how do we measure the performance of the Federal Government? Where do the figures come from to measure their performance?

      • Another great movie of the same theme is Margin Call. Big movie houses would not release it despite the many famous actors. The media thought the subject to arcane so it had only a modest opening in few theaters. It is about how Lehman Brothers collapsed, and is very good. Get the DVD. The movie compresses for artistic purposes about 6 months of events into 3 days.

        Wall Street occupies every power center in America these days. One day another Teddy Roosevelt bust the oligarchs President will show up. It clearly is not Obama and unlikely Romney.

  4. The polarisation between the rich and poor is happening here as well. Australia would be in the same situation as Europe and the US but for our enormous mineral wealth and the need for China for our minerals. This has saved us from the effects of the GFC. The bulk of this enormous wealth is held mainly by just three people who together just about own more than entire countries. They now object to the government imposing a reasonable level of taxation. Like America we lower tax and hold this up as the carrot for voters to slavishly follow resulting in lower levels of care in hospitals, education, mental health, and many other social issues being neglected.

    I am forever holding up the examples of the Scandinavian countries enjoying far more equatable condition for the majority due to high taxation resulting in a fairer sharing ot the communal pie.

    America is in a pickle. It continues to hang on to the idea that capitalism is still the only way that mankind can move forward by. Despite the growing evidence that tectonic shifts are taking it further and further away from that system.

    Did it ever work?

    I can never get away that America always had the highest rates of incarceration, higher even than in Russia. Then the idea of owning guns. This is allowed under the Constitution. How can a country purport to support freedom and yet carry guns inhibiting that freedom. Surely freedom opposes violence. The rest of the world doesn’t get America anymore. Perhaps we were all overawed and taken in by all that glitter and baubles.

    On the other hand, and this is so perplexing; In the arts world, especially in its writers, painters, music, theatre etc nothing beats America. But ,people tell me, it is because of New York and New York is not America. Is that true?

    Then you seem to wallow by the tens of millions into an extreme form of religious fervour or evangelism whereby people just seem to exhibit extreme intolerance. The anti- abortion fanatacism, the anti same sex marriage conundrum by Mick Romney. I mean, why this odd mixture of freedom which so often is juxtaposed with the opposite. Guns, useless wars, strange religious cults,anti free choice for pregnant women, anti same sex marriage. The dreadful incarceration of those people at Guantanamo Bay for years without trial. Water-boarding et all. That’s what many people in the world have trouble into understanding.

    Now we are witnessing one the of most fascinating miracles of all. The emergence of China. How is it possible for a country with hundreds of millions of people to have leaped forward with a speed that America, even in its hay-days of their best economic booms ever experienced.
    Yet, China is a communist country with the second largest economy in the world. I don’t read any rapports of going to fight in foreign countries or trying to topple governments. They are just astoundingly good in raising the level of living standards for their own people and doing this very fast.
    I also hope your will soon get a better life, TinCup. We enjoy your articles and it gives me the courage to keep going for change for the better for the most.

    • I love this comment. I don’t understand what America is supposed to represent either. As a young person I enjoyed being an American and believed in the country. My parents lived the American Dream and my brothers and I enjoyed a good life. As a family we moved around to a few different states from the midwest to the west coast. But, all in all, we were sheltered from the majority who live in this country and the world at large. Everything went the way it is supposed to.

      It wasn’t until undergraduate that I began to think more for myself and more broadly. Although at a young age I enjoyed walks out into nature away from everything and began to look with a critical eye on civilization in general — the vast expansion of it, it wasn’t until I lived and traveled abroad in Europe that I began to see and experience the greater world at large. And it wasn’t until I worked in corporate America and witnessed what that meant did I begin to see the flaws with the capitalistic agenda. And it wasn’t until I witnessed the fallout during the last decade (which is still ongoing) caused from a strategy to take from the many to enrich the few beyond what would be considered wealth earned fairly, that I began to realize the corruption that has infested this country.

      I still consider myself to be ignorant, there is always more to learn and experience, but compared to many American’s, I may know more, or be willing to admit more, which is a scary thought. I am afraid far too many think they know what is right even if they may be wrong. It is a strange combination of ignorance and arrogance. And this is a perfect storm for the few that want to siphon away wealth from the many. The same forces that have taken this country over are already setting their targets on China or other promising economies. America has been gutted. The financial vultures are on the prowl for their next meal. I imagine Australia is on their list in addition to China and other promising countries to implement their shell games.

  5. Pingback: Blog Details the Invisible Traps We All Face in the U.S. Economy | Tim Prosser – Scratch Space

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