Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche"

The words attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette were loosely paraphrased by Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain in reference to the Wall Street protesters. Well, what he actually said was something like "don't blame the rich - get a job and climb the ladder of success if you don't like being poor".

Cain's heinous remarks illustrate a couple of things about our socioeconomic condition: First, the depth of polarization in this country, and also the delusional state of Republican politics. They really just don't get it.

Public wrath at the Bankster class is building. The trillions spent on bailouts and stimulus have primarily lined the pockets of the Banksters. It has been estimated that every distressed mortgage could have been completely paid off with this money. The widespread fraud in mortgage securitization continues to come to light, even as banks press for foreclosure with bogus mortgage notes.

As I've pointed out before, the serious polarization could lead to civil unrest. The protests on Wall Street and in European cities may be early indications of this.

Is it already too late to prevent a slide toward chaos? A major economic crash  could occur this fall, perhaps triggered by Greece defaulting on its debt. Now would be a great time for some bold leadership by our elected officials. Why not consider the Biblical concept of Jubilee? The levels of debt in our system and worldwide are insurmountable. Default is only a matter of time, and not just for the "PIIGS" nations of Eurpope. One small failure somewhere could rapidly collapse the rest of the global system. The European leaders shuffle around bailout proposals for Greece and Italy, but everyone knows default can't be prevented. The numbers just don't add up.

As for Republican callousness toward the plight of the poor, I'll state my firmly held conviction that we might have had a Communist revolution in this country if not for the New Deal and the rise of labor unions during the 1930's. To those who would dismantle our entitlements and throttle Union activity, this is just the price the rich must pay for a relatively tranquil nation. The welfare state was probably conceived by wealthy industrialists as an insurance policy that allowed them to remain in power.

The GlobalRev meme is definitely building out there, and drastic change may be inevitable regardless of governmental policy. It's what happens as one age ends and another begins. My hope is simply that we can manage a soft landing and try to preserve some of the better aspects of our civilization.

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