Monday, June 27, 2011

James Quinn, "As the Ghosts of Roman Emperors Whisper

“The American Empire Hangs in the Balance as
the Ghosts of Roman Emperors Whisper “
by James Quinn

“The refusal of the political class to imposes losses on large bank creditors since the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual in 2008 illustrates the extent to which the financialization of the western industrial economies has turned into a gradual coup d’état by the banks and the global speculators who dominate their client base.” - Chris Whalen

“We’re not moving toward Hitler-type fascism, but we’re moving toward a softer fascism: Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business. So you have the military-industrial complex, you have the medical-industrial complex, you have the financial industry, you have the communications industry. They go to Washington and spend hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s where the control is. I call that a soft form of fascism — something that’s very dangerous.” - Ron Paul

As the average American continues their epic struggle to stay afloat in these turbulent times it is clear to those with critical thinking skills, like Chris Whalen and Ron Paul, that the game is rigged in favor of those with enormous wealth and power. There is no doubt the levers of government and finance have been seized by a super rich minority of men, willing to use all means necessary to increase their wealth and power at the expense of those they consider lowly expendable peasants. The myth perpetuated by those in control of the system is that everyone in America has ample opportunity to move up the ladder, even as they push the ladders away from the parapet surrounding their castle.

The talking points of the super rich, which are pounded into the brains of slumbering Americans, are they pay all the taxes, create all the jobs, create all the wealth, and drive innovation. The facts say otherwise. The super rich aren’t creators, they are destroyers. The top 0.1% richest Americans didn’t get rich by creating new companies and letting their entrepreneurial talents shine. These 152,000 people, with an average income of $5.6 million per year are overwhelmingly executives at large corporations, banks, law firms, and real estate firms. These people account for 68% of the richest of the rich. Entrepreneurial creators and producers account for less than 10% of the richest Americans. The executives that make up the 68% are masters of creating debt, wealth for themselves by peddling debt to the middle class, and creating jobs in China and India by outsourcing U.S. jobs.

The average income of the 137 million people that sit at the bottom of the income pyramid has declined by 1% since 1970. The people at the top of the pyramid saw their average income rise by 385%. Was this because they worked harder? No. It was because they used their existing wealth to buy politicians and pay lobbyists to write laws, create loopholes, reduce regulations, and alter the tax code in their favor. This was not a conspiracy. It was human nature. Humans are driven by greed and fear. Lusting for power and wealth is a common human frailty. Those who are able to acquire wealth and power through their superior abilities and intellect are usually driven individuals. It is built into their DNA to seek more wealth and power. There are 310 million Americans but only 1.5 million would be classified as very rich or extremely rich. Many of these people associate in the same circles. This incestuous relationship is what breeds the growing inequality in our country. The game is rigged in favor of these 1.5 million people because they run the corporations, occupy the halls of Congress, peddle the debt products to the bottom 90%, and use their mass media to control the message to the under-educated, over-medicated, gadget distracted masses.

The problem with humans is they always push the envelope too far. The rich and powerful have methodically accumulated more wealth and more power since their glorious coup in 1913 with the creation of the Federal Reserve and the personal income tax. They have used inflation and the tax code to further their agenda. The rate of their pillaging has waxed and waned over the last century as the mood of the country has oscillated during the five turnings between crisis and triumph. The rate of looting has accelerated in the last thirty years as their false message of free market capitalism, lower tax rates for the rich, and the issuance of unparalleled amounts of debt was bought hook line and sinker by the American public. Their plundering of the national wealth reached a sickening crescendo in the last ten years, as their internet bubble was replaced by their housing bubble, which has been replaced by their debt bubble of immense proportions. As the middle class has been impoverished, 30 million people are unemployed or underemployed, senior citizens have been sacrificed at the altar of Wall Street and 45 million people are forced to use food stamps, the top 1% has done fabulously. They continue to rake in a greater proportion of the national income every year.  In 2009, in the midst of an epic financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States soared by 16% to 7.8 million as despair and hopelessness spread across the land and fearful Americans were railroaded into bailing out the bankers that initiated the crisis and believing the Obama’s Keynesian solutions would actually trickle down to them.

As the game approaches its inevitable termination those in control have become increasingly audacious and frantic in their attempts to embezzle what remains of middle class wealth. The anger and disillusionment grows by the day. The mood of the country darkens like the sky before an approaching blizzard. The intensity and violence during a Fourth Turning hastens as events spiral toward a climax. The extreme actions taken by those in power since September 2008 have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to civil war. The powerful elite in government (Bush, Paulson, Bernanke, Congress) chose to bail out the powerful elite on Wall Street (Blankfein, Dimon, Pandit, Lewis) on the backs of the American middle class. TARP, QE1, QE2, and the $800 billion stimulus package were all created by the ruling elite to benefit the ruling elite, who control the vast amount of financial wealth in the country. Savers and seniors have been thrown under the wheels of a Lamborghini driven by the profligate Wall Street gamblers.

Average Americans feel betrayed by politicians, bankers and corporate America. The Tea party movement is a reflection of that anger. Fourth Turnings always sweep away the old order and replace it with a new order. The old order isn’t ready to be swept away, but their time is coming. The U.S. economic model is unsustainable and is guaranteed to collapse in the near future. Those in power are trying to engineer a controlled collapse, but they will lose control just as they did in 2008. Panic and depression will ensue. Vast amounts of wealth will be destroyed. When the middle class realizes they have been screwed again by Wall Street and K Street, and they no longer have anything left to lose, they will lose it.

The welfare class will only riot if their EBT cards stop working and the monthly welfare direct deposit ceases. It’s the critical thinkers in the middle class that will lead a revolution. There are 250 million guns [An FBI estimate claims 1 billion- CP] owned by Americans. With this amount of firepower and millions of Americans with nothing left to lose, those attempting to retain power will be at a distinct disadvantage. I believe armed vigilantes will hunt down those responsible for the destruction of the American economy and invoke their own justice. Their gated communities and penthouse suite doormen will not protect them. No politician, banker, or corporate executive will be safe. Some will escape in their Lear jets to foreign lands, but the rest of the world will be equally chaotic and unsafe for those who committed crimes against humanity. Innocent people will die. Deserve will have nothing to do with it. The very existence of our country will hang in the balance.

Atonement: “The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere – and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls – and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.”  – Strauss & Howe - "The Fourth Turning"

“Don’t think you can escape the Fourth Turning the way you might today distance yourself from news, national politics, or even taxes you don’t feel like paying. History warns that a Crisis will reshape the basic social and economic environment that you now take for granted. The Fourth Turning necessitates the death and rebirth of the social order. It is the ultimate rite of passage for an entire people, requiring a luminal state of sheer chaos whose nature and duration no one can predict in advance.” – Strauss & Howe - "The Fourth Turning"

No one can predict the exact events (debt ceiling, Euro collapse, Middle East war) that will propel this Fourth Turning. But, the underlying drivers are clear: public debt, private debt, banker coup, military overreach, corporate fascism, Federal Reserve created inflation, an oil dependent society with depleting oil and rampant corruption across all levels of government. The fingers of instability grow longer as we add $4 billion per day to the national debt. A grain of sand will fall on the wrong part of the sand pile triggering a collapse of our currency. The event is unknown, the timing unclear, but the destination is certain. A dollar collapse will trigger a surge in interest rates, which will be fatal to our debt bloated society. Every previous Fourth Turning involved revolutionary aspects. The American Revolution and Civil War were wars of revolution. The stirrings of revolution were rampant in the early 1930s, with a plot foiled by General Smedley Butler. The New Deal was a response designed to quell discontent among the masses. Enough people are becoming aware of who to blame for the ills in our society that Henry Ford’s prediction is ever closer to being realized: “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before morning.”  

An uprising against the super rich and their banking cartel partners in crime is in the cards over the next ten years. Our society has degenerated and has been ransacked by sociopaths in suits as Jesse from Jesse’s Café Americain  so eloquently states: “Not all sociopaths wield knives and knotted cords. Some wear suits, and are exceptionally intelligent and articulate, obsessively driven, and are able to use and undermine the law and the rules for their advantage, like weapons.  It is never about the win, never about the money.  It is about the kill, the expression of their hatred, about elevating themselves with the suffering of others. Bind, torture, kill.  Not only with ropes and knives, but also with power and money, and the subversion of law.  Lawlessness is their addiction, their will to power. When societies become lax and complacent, these sociopaths can possess great political power through great amounts of unprincipled money.  And over time they become almost anti-human, destroyers of all that is good, all that is life, all that offends their insatiable sickness with its goodness.  They twist the public against itself, and turn a broad sweep of society into their killing grounds. This is the undeniable lesson of the last century. There are monsters, and they walk among us.”

Human beings are a flawed species. We are often driven by emotion rather than reason. We are easily convinced of things we want to be convinced about. Those with superior intelligence often take advantage of those with inferior intelligence. We are prone to mass hysteria and believing things that, in retrospect, were utterly ridiculous. We can be swayed by fear and greed in alternating degrees of delusion. History teaches us that this time isn’t different. We’ve experienced depression, war and social upheaval on an epic scale three times since the founding of this country. With only three data points it is tough to discern patterns that would reveal exactly how this Fourth Turning will play out. But it is apparent to me that each Fourth Turning alternates between a mostly external struggle and a mostly internal struggle. The American Revolution was a struggle against an external oppressor – Great Britain. The Civil War was an internal struggle between the industrial North and the agrarian South. The Depression/World War II struggle was mainly against an external threat – Germany, Japan, and Italy.

The Fourth Turnings that centered upon an external threat ended with a glorious High. The Civil War Fourth Turning resolution felt more like defeat, with the country exhausted, bitter and angry. All indications are this Fourth Turning will be mainly an internal struggle between the ruling class of bankers, business elites, and politicians and the downtrodden middle class. The lying, cheating, fraud, theft and other wrongs committed by those in power will need to be atoned for. The generational dynamics in place will drive the reactions of the country moving forward. We have been badly led. A vast swath of the populace has lived beyond their means. The existing system is unsustainable. The Boomer generation does not want to yield on their perceived entitlements. The Millenial generation will be saddled with un-payable debts. Generation X is caught in the middle of this generational struggle. The huge imbalances in our society have built up over decades like flood waters behind a weakening levee. When the levee breaks the existing order will be swept away in the raging torrent that will follow.

The ruling class will be stripped of their unseemly acquired wealth; the Boomer generation will be scorned for their reckless disregard for future generations and stripped of their entitlements; Generation X will resign themselves to a lower standard of living, knowing full well by doing so, their children will not be saddled with crushing levels of debt; Millenials will have borne the burden of the revolution and violence which will be inevitable as the ruling class fights to retain their dominating position in society.  Darkness descends upon our land. Storm clouds gather on the horizon. We’ve all played a part in the catastrophe that lies before us. Everyone in our crumbling society will need to atone for its sins, whether they deserve to or not. Will Munney in "The Unforgiven" was not an innocent man, but he ultimately atoned for his sins by digging deep into his soul and finding the strength and fortitude to fight the evil establishment. Each generation’s rendezvous with destiny awaits. There are no guarantees. The myth of American Exceptionalism will not protect us from the choices we’ve made. God will not shield us from the consequences of our actions. The American Empire hangs in the balance. As the ghosts of Roman emperors whisper – Glory is fleeting.      

“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” – Strauss & Howe - "The Fourth Turning"

“History offers no guarantees. Obviously, things could go horribly wrong – the possibilities ranging from a nuclear exchange to incurable plagues, from terrorist anarchy to high-tech dictatorship. We should not assume that Providence will always exempt our nation from the irreversible tragedies that have overtaken so many others: not just temporary hardship, but debasement and total ruin. Losing in the next Fourth Turning could mean something incomparably worse. It could mean a lasting defeat from which our national innocence – perhaps even our nation – might never recover.” – Strauss & Howe - "The Fourth Turning.”

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