Hoarders and the masses
Historian Fernand Braudel saw capitalism as a distinct layer of coercive power hovering over what we think of as a market economy that’s driven by the supply and demand curves of econ 101. It’s an extremely useful way of thinking about the world today since “capitalism”, so defined, would seem to have gained almost total domination over the “market economy”. 40% of total global revenue is controlled by just 500 corporations (the Global 500), every major industry is an oligopoly, and wealth is extraordinarily concentrated. In the US, the bottom 80% of the population controls just 7% of financial wealth and similar concentrations are found throughout the world. A very tiny elite controls all important means of production. The mega-corporations and concentrated wealth also control the mass media and therefore much of our very culture and have an iron grip on political systems around the world – it’s a mockery of the term to claim democracy exists anywhere on the planet.
Economists and the media often refer to the super-wealthy as “investors” but that’s not very descriptive of what they actually do since there’s little productive investment occurring. A far better term is “hoarders” as their true motive is to endlessly accumulate money and power. We live in a world dictated by the hoarders and it’s far closer to feudalism than most of us imagine.
At the risk of gross simplification, we can identify two key classes – the hoarders and the masses. In its essentials, mainstream economic theory professes nothing other than that the living standards of the masses are completely reliant on what the hoarders decide to spend. If the hoarders see few profitable ventures, the masses are shit out of luck. It’s irrelevant that the technology exists to provide the masses with excellent and secure living conditions– they don’t own the technology, the hoarders do.
The masses have treaded water over the past few decades only by borrowing from the hoarders but that option was never sustainable and has now met its inevitable demise. Governments, theoretically elected by the masses but in actuality owned by the hoarders, have borrowed greatly from the hoarders over the past couple years but the hoarders are now objecting and that option is over as well.
Mainstream economists teach the masses that their hallowed economic science, supported by brilliantly complex mathematical equations, requires they cut living standards and work ever harder so that they may eventually become profitable commodities to the hoarders. A few radical economists, though stopping short of pure socialism, have had the temerity to suggest that the masses are fully capable of creating their own purchasing power independently of the hoarders through direct monetary creation. This, of course, is a frontal assault on the hoarders that cannot be accepted by any mainstream economist, politician, or media outlet and the masses therefore are unaware of such heretical claims. The furthest from the hoarders a mainstreamer can tread is to suggest a few token tax increases along with a bit more government borrowing from the hoarders. Such borrowing can last only a couple more years and will be paid for by future cuts in mass living standards. In no case can the hoarding system itself be challenged.
In its essentials, doesn’t this sure seem a reasonable assessment of where we are? Any improvement in mass living standards must come at the expense of the hoarders, it’s that plain and simple.