Monday, July 26, 2010
The End Of The U.S. Economy As We Know It?
It's the End of the World As We Know It
By Phil Davis of Phil's Stock World
What are 308,367,109 Americans supposed to do?
First of all, despite clamping down on immigration, our population grew by 2.6M people last year. Unfortunately, not only did we not create jobs for those 2.6M new people but we lost about 4M jobs so what are these new people going to do? Not only that, but nobody is talking about the another major job issue: People aren’t retiring! They can’t afford to because the economy is bad - that means there are even less job openings… The pimply faced kid can’t get a job delivering pizza because his grandpa’s doing it.
There are some brilliant pundits who believe cutting retirement benefits will fix our economy. How will that work exactly? Pay old people less money, don’t cover their medical care and what happens? Then they need money. If they need money, they need to work and if they need to work they increase the supply of labor, which reduces wages and leaves all 308,367,109 of us with less money. Oh sorry, not ALL 308,367,109 - just 308,337,109 - the top 30,000 (0.01%) own the business the other 308,337,109 work at and they will be raking it in because labor is roughly 1/3 of the cost of doing business in America and our great and powerful capitalists have already cut their manufacturing costs by shipping all those jobs overseas, where they pay as little as $1 a day for a human life so now, in order to increase their profits (because profits MUST be increased) they have now turned inward to see what they can shave off in America.
How does one decrease the cost of labor in America? Well first, you have to bust the unions. Check. Then you have to create a pressing need for people to work - perhaps give them easy access to credit and then get them to go so deeply into debt that they will have to work until they die to pay them off. Check. It also helps if you push up the cost of living by manipulating commodity prices. Check. Then, take away people’s retirement savings. Check. Lower interest rates to make savings futile and interest income inadequate. Check. And finally, threaten to take away the 12% a year that people have been saving for retirement by labeling Social Security an "entitlement" program - as if it wasn’t money Americans worked their whole lives to save and gave to the government in good faith.Check.
As Allen Smith says: "Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan pulled off one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated against the American people in the history of this great nation, and the underlying scam is still alive and well, more than a quarter century later. It represents the very foundation upon which the economic malpractice that led the nation to the great economic collapse of 2008 was built. Essentially, Reagan switched the federal government from what he critically called, a “tax and spend” policy, to a “borrow and spend” policy, where the government continued its heavy spending, but used borrowed money instead of tax revenue to pay the bills. The results were catastrophic. Although it had taken the United States more than 200 years to accumulate the first $1 trillion of national debt, it took only five years under Reagan to add the second one trillion dollars to the debt. By the end of the 12 years of the Reagan-Bush administrations, the national debt had quadrupled to $4 trillion!"
Both Reagan and Greenspan saw big government as an evil, and they saw big business as a virtue. They both had despised the progressive policies of Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson, and they wanted to turn back the pages of time. They came up with the perfect strategy for the redistribution of income and wealth from the working class to the rich. If Reagan had campaigned for the presidency by promising big tax cuts for the rich and pledging to make up for the lost revenue by imposing substantial tax increases on the working class, he would probably not have been elected. But that is exactly what Reagan did, with the help of Alan Greenspan. Consider the following sequence of events:
1) President Reagan appointed Greenspan as chairman of the 1982 National Commission on Social Security Reform (aka The Greenspan Commission)
2) The Greenspan Commission recommended a major payroll tax hike to generate Social Security surpluses for the next 30 years, in order to build up a large reserve in the trust fund that could be drawn down during the years after Social Security began running deficits.
3) The 1983 Social Security amendments enacted hefty increases in the payroll tax in order to generate large future surpluses.
4) As soon as the first surpluses began to role in, in 1985, the money was put into the general revenue fund and spent on other government programs. None of the surplus was saved or invested in anything. The surplus Social Security revenue, that was paid by working Americans, was used to replace the lost revenue from Reagan’s big income tax cuts that went primarily to the rich.
5) In 1987, President Reagan nominated Greenspan as the successor to Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Greenspan continued as Fed Chairman until January 31, 2006. (One can only speculate on whether the coveted Fed Chairmanship represented, at least in part, a payback for Greenspan’s role in initiating the Social Security surplus revenue.)
6) In 1990, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, a member of the Greenspan Commission, and one of the strongest advocates the 1983 legislation, became outraged when he learned that first Reagan, and then President George H.W. Bush used the surplus Social Security revenue to pay for other government programs instead of saving and investing it for the baby boomers. Moynihan locked horns with President Bush and proposed repealing the 1983 payroll tax hike. Moynihan’s view was that if the government could not keep its hands out of the Social Security cookie jar, the cookie jar should be emptied, so there would be no surplus Social Security revenue for the government to loot. President Bush would have no part of repealing the payroll tax hike. The “read-my-lips-no-new-taxes” president was not about to give up his huge slush fund.
The practice of using every dollar of the surplus Social Security revenue for general government spending continues to this day. The 1983 payroll tax hike has generated approximately $2.5 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue which is supposed to be in the trust fund for use in paying for the retirement benefits of the baby boomers. But the trust fund is empty! It contains no real assets. As a result, the government will soon be unable to pay full benefits without a tax increase. Money can be spent or it can be saved. But you can’t do both. Absolutely none of the $2.5 trillion was saved or invested in anything.
That is how the largest theft in the history of the world was carried out. 300M people worked and saved their whole lives to set aside $2.5Tn into a retirement system that, if it were paying a fair compounding rate of 5% interest over 40 years of labor (assuming an even $62Bn a year was contributed), would be worth $8.4Tn today - enough money to give 100M workers $84,000 each in cash! The looting of FICA hid the massive deficits of the last 30 years in the Unified Budget. Presidents and Congresses were able to reduce taxes on the wealthiest Americans without complaint from the deficit hawks, because they benefited. The money went directly from the pockets of average Americans into the pockets of the rich.
Now that it is time to repay those special bonds in the Trust Fund, we are inundated in opinion pieces in the leading newspapers and magazines complaining about Social Security and its horrible impact on the budget. Government finances have been trashed by foolish tax cuts, unpaid wars, tax loopholes for corporations and the very wealthy, the failures of economists, the greedy search for greater returns in financial markets and the collapse of moral values in giant businesses, but Social Security is supposed to be the problem that needs fixing…
Social Security is not "broken"--the money is in the Trust Fund. But the people who manage the finances of the United States don’t want to repay the bonds held by the Trust Fund. They want to default selectively against average people, their fellow citizens, who paid their taxes expecting to be protected in their retirement. Refusing to repay the $2.54 trillion dollars in bonds held by the Social Security Trust makes the US look like Greece, just another nation unable to govern itself coherently. The people who manage US finances come from the financial elites, the best that Wall Street and enormous corporations have to offer. Selective default exposes them as charlatans. The claims of the economics profession to expertise are puffery. Their theories about the benefits of tax cuts are proven false. Their mathematical proofs about free markets collapse in the real world.
So, what is this all about? It’s about forcing 5M people a year who reach the age 65 to remain in the work-force. The top 0.01% have already taken your money, they have already put you in debt, they have already bankrupted the government as well so it has no choice but to do their bidding. Now the top 0.01% want to make even MORE profits by paying American workers even LESS money. If they raise the retirement age to 70 to "balance" Social Security - that will guarantee that another 25M people remain in the workforce (less the ones that drop dead on the job - saving the bother of paying them severance).
What’s next? Is it fair to say that children can’t work in a struggling family business? Isn’t it to everybody’s benefit that kids should be allowed to help out at the family store? That will be the next step towards turning America into a 3rd World country. The seemingly innocent concept of "letting" kids work will deprive another 5M people of paying jobs - throwing them out into the labor force as well and driving labor costs down even further.
There’s an expression that goes "give them an inch and they’ll take a yard." The top 0.01% of this country have taken their inches and they are foreclosing on the yards and they will come for the rest of your stuff next. If you think you are "safe" from the looting of America, it is only because they haven’t gotten around to you yet. As I explained in "America is 234 Years Old Today - Is It Finished?" - the game is rigged very much like a poker tournament. The people at the top table don’t care how well you do wiping out your fellow players at the lower tables, they know they will get you eventually and your efforts to scoop up a pile of cash for yourself simply makes their job easier when they are ready to take it from you.
The average American is $634,000 in debt thanks to the efforts that Reagan and Greenspan put in motion 30 years ago and the richer you are, the more of that money is going to come out of your hide eventually and the more you lobby to make sure that the "rich" are not taxed unfairly, the less fair it will be to you because, no matter how rich you THINK you are, unless your income is measured in MILLIONS PER MONTH, you aren’t even close to the top 30,000.
No progressive tax? That means that people and corporations who make $1M PER DAY should pay no more tax than a person making $1M per year, right? Well that means that the $2.5M debt that your family of four owes will be paid by you over 2.5 years of labor while the $2.5M owed by your Billionaire competitor will be paid over a long weekend, after which he can turn his attention back to crushing your business by creating cheaper goods - maintaining profit margins by driving down local labor costs and outsourcing the rest.
It’s a new world, America, and you’d better get used to it - we were sold down the river on a slow boat to China long ago and we’re only just beginning to feel the first effects of waves that wash back to our own shores. The people who own the media don’t want CHANGE. That’s why you never hear this stuff in the MSM - things are going exactly according to plan and the old money crowd is playing a long, patient game and they already have most of the chips - the last thing they want is people questioning the system…