Our Only Hope (for H.M.)

Between 1966 and 2001, the median salary in the US increased by 11% after adjusting for inflation. In the 99.99th percentile (where the 13,000 highest paid US workers fall), annual income increased 617%. It’s gotten worse since then.

Over the past 40 years, while the “debate” raged over democrat vs. republican and government activism vs. free market capitalism and imperialism vs. world policeman, the few robbed the majority blind. Picture a classroom where two boys trying to launch spitballs at the teacher attract the attention of all the students but one. The one clear-eyed pupil steals all the others’ lunch money in plain sight, flips some small amount to the teacher, and watches with chilling calm when the larceny is discovered and the mass of pupils attack the teacher and whichever spitball boy has eyebrows they don’t particularly like the look of. Little did they all know that the one clear-eyed student paid these boys as well.

What can be hoped for? We can raise taxes on the rich, the ones who stole, but it’s probably too late. They’ll know long before us when the dollar and the yen and the price of gold will plummet. They’ll have moved to some country which by design, and according to its constitution, serves as a tax shelter for the most privileged global citizens. The founding documents, by the way, will have been written by a native of that country, who attended Yale and roomed with some of the usual suspects.

Why is there so little anger at those who deserve it? Why is there so much directed at illegal aliens and the poor and blacks? Of course, there are answers to these questions. “The few” control the media, the messaging, and the means of production of ideas. And on and on, as we’ve heard before, nodding gravely and reaching for our latte. But those answers no longer suffice. At some point, for each individual person, hasn’t the bullshitting got to end? Why don’t we understand that this ruling class infringes on our liberty way more than any terrorists could ever hope, since the terrorists simply hastened and catalyzed a process already underway.

Have you seen a supersaturated solution crystallized by a projectile?

The ruling class corroborated with the government to produce the biggest and most effective Ponzi scheme on record. Regular workers contributed to their 401k’s and IRA’s and 457’s and 403b’s in exchange for tax breaks. The financiers used the money to engage in huge over-leveraged risks and have already run away with the wealth generated by this scheme. It’s a game of musical chairs and the guy with his finger on the stereo’s switch is on the take.

So what? Aside from robbing us, what have they really done? Don’t we still have our souls, if not our dignity?

We have digital media, especially the internet, a great resource for pornography and confirming that other peoples’ lives are as frivolous as our own. We have foreclosed houses and entire foreclosed neighborhoods—monuments to our own dead hopes but, more than that, nice covers for what underneath has been erased. We’ve destroyed our open spaces in the name of progress and home ownership and profitable real estate hedge funds. We’ve ruined our landscape and we’ve done the digging ourselves. We’ve poisoned our air and streams as if they had wronged us. We’ve killed off countless species. We can’t see the forest through the trees because there is no forest. We’ve inflicted great pain on the citizens of other countries, raining bombs and nonsense down on them.  We’ve lost our great literature and art to the asking of silly questions. We’ve squandered the education of the masses. We’ve fallen embarrassingly short in being merely helpful.

We’ve allowed our faith and our religion to be subordinated to progress and profit. We’ve apparently lost even the ability to see these things. We’ve become distracted, drunk. We live in a literal and figurative haze. We are lonely, and alone.

And, ultimately: do we like it this way, because it most accurately reflects how we want to feel when we are most in touch with the basic facts of trying to cling to a big rock hurtling round a giant ball of nuclear flame, spinning crazily all the while, with naught but darkness beyond.

Some might say this is a dismal vision. That’s been said. I say much more hopeless are the ones who remain willfully ignorant, who know who stole their lunch money, but attack the spitballers. They are hoping only for disappointment—for if they catch their prize, they’ll be forced to face the facts of their chase. Let’s face the facts of the chase first, and re-direct our efforts.