2014 Will Be Good Year For Rich People

And their children and grandchildren.

007_mso_Optics_001_klein-710954NEW YORK, NY As hundreds of thousands of displaced Afghani children start to shiver in the sub-freezing temperatures of a cold winter’s night, wealthy executives and financiers the world over prepared to ring in the new year in the lavish comfort and warmth of their multi-million dollar estates, eating caviar and drinking champagne served by their proletariat waitstaff who are just grateful to have a job, any job at all.

“2013 was pretty good, but I really can’t wait for 2014,” said hedge fund entrepreneur and international playboy Lord Preston Bledwicke VI as his finest concubines hand-fed him organic Condor’s eggs seasoned with the tears of Syrian political refugees.

Analysts and forecasters the world over agree that the new year will undoubtedly result in the top 1% of earners securing most of the remaining wealth assets that are controlled, for the moment at least, by the nearly extinguished middle class.

“My daddy said he’s going to buy me an African diamond mine,” exclaimed five-year-old Sophia Ivanna Guinevere McIntire, blissfully unaware of the literally countless lives lost by so-called “blood diamond” operations in an area still reeling from the effects of centuries of brutally oppressive, ruthlessly extractive European colonialism.

When asked what else the 99% could possibly give up to help increase the wealthiest’s already absurd amount of resources, a press representative for the rich replied, “sexual favors.”

Report: If You Thought 2013 Was Bad, Wait’ll You See 2014

“You’re going to want to be able to run fast for long distances.”

EndofWorldASSOCIATED PRESS NEWSWIRE According to a paper published today by a multinational research cooperative the year 2014 will be “historically problematic,” to quote the text’s abstract.

The news comes as something of a disappointment to the billions of humans across the globe who were holding out hope that the year 2014 would mark a turning point for humanity in general and their lives in particular.

“Yeah, according to the findings, that’s not going to happen,” said lead statistician Dr. Herbert Überdorfer. “I personally wouldn’t have thought it possible, but, like, wow, man, buckle up,” he added, as he casually flipped through the 417-page tome chronicling the upcoming year’s likely catastrophes.

Although specifics were not yet made available to the press, the report’s table of contents include entries like “Political Problems” (27 pages), “Humanitarian Crises” (184 pages), and “Beloved Sports Teams That Will Lay An Egg” (12 heartbreaking pages).

“If you haven’t put together one of those home disaster kits, now is a good time” said Dr. Überdorfer. “In fact, now is going to be the last good time for… for a while,” he added.

Economists familiar with the report’s findings were quick to note that while the bad news is that the global financial situation is not going to improve in the new year, the good news is that “everyone will be too busy dealing with other things to care about money,” according to a public relations representative for the World Bank.

At press time, rumors were circulating that the President’s annual New Year’s Eve address would include encouragements for Americans to party like there will be “no tomorrow,” and to buy “lots and lots of duct tape.”

 

Income Inequality and the Slippery Slope

income_inequalityToday, on the heels of President Obama’s speech on income inequality, fast food workers in 100 American cities went on strike in an effort to gain higher wages.

The Guardian has an interview today with one of the striking workers, Laurentina, who earns $9.15/hr working at McDonald’s and is trying to raise four children as a single mother.

However you may feel about it, there can be no doubt that income inequality is a very real and very unbalanced condition in the United States. As the chart I published earlier this week clearly demonstrates, wealth is rapidly diminishing among the bottom 90% of earners.  The story of the middle class in the last twenty years has been the story of its disappearance. Again, however you might feel about it, there can be no doubt that America is hurtling towards a new economic paradigm that will contain three possible states: the obscenely wealthy (~1%), the not-far-behind (~9%), and the poor (~90%).

Back to Laurentina. I wonder how many people will read her story today and think to themselves, “why does someone who works at McDonald’s think it’s okay to be a single mother with four kids?”

I know I certainly had this reaction at one point reading the article. And it scared me. Because as the remaining vapors of the middle class go quietly into that good night, as jobless rates remain stagnant and an increasing number of potential workers stop searching for jobs because there are none to be had, and as wealth continues to accumulate amongst the top 1% of the nation’s earners, what other opportunities to Laurentina and the hundreds of millions like her have?

And yet, that is how the United States contextualizes a case like this: it’s Laurentina’s fault. She shouldn’t have had those kids. She shouldn’t have allowed her marriage to end (or if she was never married, she should have). She should work harder.

Recent sociological work potently challenges these antiquated notions of America as a land of opportunity in which anyone can rise to the top if they just apply themselves. But I think there’s another systemic assumption at play here, one that has thus far stayed largely in the shadows.

I would like to see a national conversation on the following topic: what do we as Americans believe are opportunities that anyone can/should have access to, and what do we feel should only be available to those who can pay for it?

Because I am concerned that as money disappears from the masses we are fast approaching a place where we decide that marriages, children, housing, and access to police and fire and even water should only be available to those who can specifically pay for it.

Certainly until very recently this is how Americans felt about access to health care. Challenging this ideology has proven to be extraordinarily difficult, meeting resistance at every turn, not just from the expected people and institutions who do not benefit from the dilution of what was previously an exclusive privilege of their wealth, but also from the very people who stand to benefit the most.

 

Income Distribution and the Disappearing Middle Class

Net_worth_and_financial_wealth

I don’t have much to say about this that I haven’t already said. I just thought it would be a good idea if this chart were spread far and wide around the internet.

Credit: Professor G. William Domhoff, Sociology Dept., University of California at Santa Cruz.

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

What Does ‘Obamacare’ Have in Common With Tesla?

They’re both on the receiving end of hysterical attack marketing.

2122261018_monopoly_elec_banking_ed_bx_xlargeThe most significant health care reform in the history of the United States, one that will make comprehensive affordable health care available to every citizen regardless of caste or medical history, is being called a failure in every major news media outlet because its website has some problems.

The world’s first non-gimmicked, non-planned-obsolescence electric car, the product of one of the nation’s most promising new innovative manufacturing startups, receives media attention mainly because three of its cars caught fire following collisions, the first occurrence of which suspiciously became a YouTube sensation when a passing motorist “just happened” to notice that it was a Tesla.

What the hell is going on here?

Monopolies resist innovation and change. The most cost-effective way for behemoth institutions to maintain their size and power is to ensure that nothing can possibly compete with their products or services. Open markets are bad, goes the thinking, because an open market could potentially produce a competitor with a significantly better product or service. Monopolies win so long as the status quo goes unthreatened.

Since its origins, the financial paradigm at the heart of the auto industry has been the internal combustion engine and its reliance on oil. Huge institutional fortunes all over the world hinge on the continued success of this increasingly obsolescent machine and its rapidly diminishing fuel source, and the continued delay via any means available of the implementation of the proven technologies that will supplant and replace ICEs and their fuel source is in the best interests of the people sitting atop those institutions.

The auto industry’s resistance to change is well-documented. For decades, American automakers in particular relied upon patriotism and a “who cares” attitude towards innovation, fuel economy, and emissions regulations to excuse a lethargic path-of-least-resistance guideline for product development.

Similarly, the nation’s health care providers have been complicit in creating an industry whose primary aim is to be profitable. Even common-sense measures with clear health advantages, such as the implementation of electronic medical records, have met with massive industry-wide resistance and only gained traction thanks to equally massive government regulatory efforts that have included tax credits and other forms of federal funding to financially reward health care providers for adapting the technology.

One effective form of resistance is to control the public conversation, and both the health care and automobile establishments have been successful in their attempts, overt or otherwise, to shape the news media’s presentation of both the Affordable Care Act and the development of Tesla’s next generation of cars as largely failures. Worth wondering is how much of a controlling interest those industries have in some of the nation’s news media outlets.

Given the shrill nature of headlines about “Obamacare” and exploding Tesla cars, it seems at least plausible that institutions with a vested interest in protecting their status quo are making some noise.

Hey CNN, Can You Stop Calling It “Obamacare?”

Barack Obamaby Matthew DeCapua

Hey. “Worldwide Leader in News.” I’m talking to you.

Stop calling the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare.” Now.

Can I be real? I can? Great. So now that I’m being real, here’s the dope: for a long time, the Republican establishment has practiced any and every means available to stop President Obama from accomplishing anything whatsoever.

Why? So glad you asked. It has nothing to do with good governance. Nothing at all to do with the will of the people, or the best interests of the nation, or anything that could even remotely be called right, or just, or altruistic, or good.

It boils down to two essential reasons. First and foremost, our national Congressional leaders (to be fair, on both sides of the aisle), are completely bought and paid for by special interests with, shall we say, an extremely strong desire to maintain the status quo.

Second, there’s a black man sitting in the Oval Office, and an alarming number of people can’t handle it, and being the kind of people that can’t handle it, they react accordingly, to the detriment and embarrassment of the rest of us that have to live in the same country as them.

So back to you, CNN. Every time you call the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” in one of your infantile headlines you willingly and deliberately evoke the entire spectrum of complete bullshit the more unhinged parts of the GOP have conjured in their mighty but ultimately futile attempt to prevent our President, working with a mandate, from even beginning to fix one of our national infrastructure’s most egregiously flawed institutions.

“Obamacare” doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of the Republican Party’s imagination dreamed up by frothing-mouthed residents of some bizarro political fantasy land who scream hysterically about death panels in between cashing checks from a corporate establishment with a vested interest in pretending there’s not a health care crisis in this country. “Obamacare” is failed propoganda. “Obamacare” is a myth.

The Affordable Care Act is this country’s first meaningful attempt to correct one of its most deep-rooted, classist, elitist, human crises. It’s not perfect, but it’s significantly better than the “system” it replaces. Its signature components enjoy the overwhelming support of the American people.

It’s the law of the land.

Report it as such.

ARRRR!!!! What day be this?

76ffa76c411a372362d578d80c137966by Captain Jebbediah Quixote Scurvy

Ye gads! I can nary believe me own eyes and ears. Avast ye miserable scalawags! Do ye know what day this be?

Look alive there by the mizzen mast! What ho!? Don’t ye be knowing what the glorious sun be bringing us today, or do ye be needin’ a good keel haulin’ to remind ye?

I know ye can hear me!

Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike….. be namin’ the day, I compels ye!

Ah ha ha ha haaaaa!!

Listen, tells me what day this be!

DYARRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!

International ‘Talk Like a Pirate” Day!!!!

Congress Can’t Believe There’s Been Another Mass Shooting

“Didn’t We Just Take Care of This?” Incredulous Lawmakers Ask.

congressWASHINGTON, D.C. As 12 bodies and 14 seriously wounded people were removed from the Navy Yards just a few miles from Capitol Hill, a perplexed and sorrowful Congress wondered exactly how and where it could have possibly gone wrong in preventing yet another deadly mass shooting on American soil.

“Didn’t we, like, just vote on this?” asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Wait, we did. I totally remember. This came up for a vote, and we voted on it, and it was done,” remembered the Congressman.

“So why on Earth would this happen again?”

“We definitely had a vote on guns,” minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was heard talking to herself, brow furrowed and deep in thought. “Gabby Giffords came. I remember, I invited her for coffee and a bagel but she couldn’t come because she had a doctor’s appointment. Something about her head.”

“Y’know what, all y’all? I ain’t gonna worry ’bout it,” declared Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). “Somebody’s gonna put a bill together, and we’ll vote on it, and that’ll put an end to all this mass shootin’ stuff.”

“Now, if you’ll ‘scuse me, looks like I’m havin’ lunch with my good friend and distinguished fellow American Wayne LaPierre,” concluded the congressman.

“Again.”