Friday, January 24, 2014

The Failure of the Meritocracy: Twilight of the Elites

Chris Hayes has it exactly right.  He's an Editor-at-Large for The Nation, (at least he was in 2012) and has a book out titled, Twilight of the Elites: America after the Meritocracy.  What I refer to as the Corporatocracy (from John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man) or the Oligarchy, Mr. Hayes calls the Meritocracy.  It's the same kettle of rotting fish.

The word "meritocracy" was coined by a British social critic in the 1950s.  It was used in a satirical way to describe how the elites rig the game and make rules in their favor.  Basically, the whole thing boils down to this:
1. in the ethereal atmosphere of the elitist world, the most valuable characteristic of Humankind is high intelligence;
2. the most valuable use of that intelligence is deemed to be the making of vast sums of money;
3. other considerations, such as a social conscience, egalitarianism, democracy, compassion, and the like are deemed to be unimportant...or even hindrances.

Though the Brit who coined the term meant it in the vein of 1984, or Animal Farm, or Brave New World (in other words, dystopian societies), elites have (supposedly by mistake) adopted the concept as a model for society.  As a result, they have come to view themselves---because most of them are super-intelligent---as a class apart, superior to the Average Jane or Joe in every way.  They also have developed a strong sense of solidarity within their Class because they are, in their minds, vastly superior to the "little people".  [I was stunned when the International Head of BP, in a national TV news interview, referred to the Gulf residents as the "small people".  The man reeked of condescension...and I think, knew it.]

This all has resulted in a situation in which the elites, who are great Institutionalists, wind up protecting the people in the institution (public or private) rather than the people whom the institution serves...the overwhelming majority of any population.  Those of us in the lower socio-economic classes are viewed as Insurrectionists, and there is little or no concern for our well-being.  Example:  the cover-up (or ignoring) of the Sandusky affair at Penn State by the hierarchy of that institution.  Example:  the opposition to Cesar Chavez when he protested the lack of protection for farmworkers from pesticides, back when pesticides were barely regulated.

Those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder have experienced the negative effects of the Meritocracy for decades and decades.  What's different now is that the Upper Middle Class, since about the late 1990s or 2000, also has been experiencing those negative effects...especially economically, but also socially.  Wages/salaries have largely stagnated, people have to work longer in order to survive retirement in anything resembling a comfortable fashion, economic "bubbles" often have negatively impacted retirement funds, the National Security State is becoming more and more demanding and intrusive, wealth is being transferred from the Middle Class to the upper one percent at a truly astounding rate, and on & on.

The Sea Change in all this, the thing that has the elites very concerned, is the fact that the Upper Middle Class (and even many of those at the bottom of the ladder) is demonstrating that it will not put up with business-as-usual.  Sometimes actively, sometimes passively, they are expressing their extreme displeasure.  Faith in institutions of all kinds is in a free-fall decline...and most of those institutions are controlled by elites. 

The Meritocracy/Oligarchy knows that something bad for them definitely is in the wind.  Because they're mostly short-term-gain thinkers, I predict that in the not-so-distant future we'll have more economic bubbles and more "too big to fail" bailouts, or something even weirder, enabling the upper crust to scam even more billions.  Financial "derivatives" may be instrumental in that scenario...again.  I hope I'm wrong.

Partly just my opinion.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

More: Class War and Politics

Once again, I offer my response to an email from a "Conservative" friend.  He asked me about political "sides" (e.g., Right v. Left, Conservatives v. Liberals, etc.), and also whether or not I thought our economic system might collapse...and what I thought might come after that, specifically, would it be a leaner, more conservative system.

My response---

Here's what I believe in terms of "sides". I came to this after about 5 yrs of serious consideration---

There is no longer any choice between so-called Liberals and so-called Conservatives; that's all an Oligarchical distraction - a Divide & Conquer strategy. It certainly wasn't always that way; maybe 10 to 20 yrs ago the choice was genuine...no longer. To illustrate, take Kennedy & Obama as examples. I believe that JFK was a genuine Liberal/Progressive...and I think he truly loved this country. I didn't agree with most of his politics, but I thought he was sincere in his beliefs. Obama is a snake. Those smitten with Obama-worship appear to believe that he's a Liberal; those opposing him appear to believe that he's a Socialist. I firmly believe he's neither...OBAMA IS A CORPORATIST through and through. I've detailed my reasons for that belief in various Blog posts.

Here's what John Pilger, a self-admitted Socialist (and an investigative journalist), had to say about O---
"He's a product of Madison Ave. propaganda---Brand Obama... and it's all fake. Don't believe what he says; watch what he does.".

"Conservatives" point to ObamaCare as an example of socialism; what a joke. The ACA was a bailout of the health insurance industry; it should have been called the Affordable Insurance Act. It did nothing for health care; it basically gave $$$ to mega insurance companies. It's "affordable" because many customers now have higher premiums than before, and because many people are now forced to buy coverage they don't need (such as maternity care for single men). The extra money supposedly is diverted to subsidize poorer customers. In any case, it's PRIVATE companies that benefit. That's fascism, not socialism; it's the power of the State married to the power of Big Biz. Despite their phony bitching & moaning about OCare, I firmly believe that the health insurance industry loves it. It's a windfall for them. It's also a windfall for PRIVATE doctors, PRIVATE clinics, PRIVATE hospitals, etc. Why? More business.

So, as to "sides" in the current political climate, I see only two real choices--- the Oligarchy, and the rest of us. Unfortunately, that means the now phony Conservative-Liberal and Repub-Dem splits have to be ignored or dismantled, or both. People will think that's ridiculous, impossible, unimaginable. I say, look at History; something very similar has happened over & over, not only around the world, but also in the short span of this country. For example, the Republican Party was not around for decades earlier in our political history. Our Founders were all "Liberals", but later "liberal" no longer meant "for freedom". NeoCons are called Neoliberals everywhere but in the USA. Reagan & Thatcher were proponents of Neoliberalism to everyone but Americans...and that was a bad thing to most foreigners. The current political state of things is not carved in concrete. It's not even unusual for such things to totally change. But the Oligarchs would like us to believe otherwise...because the current setup is a perfect Divide & Conquer strategy for them. And please, it's not any kind of "conspiracy"; it's simply good business to them.

As to the Tea Partiers, it's very hard to assess them...they're of various beliefs and decentralized to a large degree. They are not, despite what the Corporate Media calls them, only ultra-conservatives. If I were to guess, I'd say they're near the right track, but not on it. Of course, my "right track" may not be yours. [It does bother me that I've seen some evidence that most likely their "grassroots" movement really was started and funded by Oligarchs such as the Koch brothers. The evidence is not definitive, but it's there. In my mind, that taints the whole movement to some unknown degree. They may be a good thing...or not. It's too hard to tell right now.]
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I don't know for sure whether or not your excellent questions were rhetorical, but I'll give my opinion regardless. :) [Many more Americans should be giving serious thought to these things; instead, they seem to be distracted by Bread & Circuses.]

Naturally, all of the following is pure guesswork on my part. I've learned that the older I get, the less I really know for sure. That said, I believe our current system is doomed...probably not within my lifetime, or maybe even yours, but doomed nonetheless. All the signs are there. The national debt will continue to grow until the collapse; that will come shortly after the world no longer accepts the dollar as the world's reserve currency. People in positions of power didn't say much when an unprecedented event happened fairly recently---for the 1st time ever, a major country (China) called for a discontinuation of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. That's monumental; it's the first crack in our worldwide financial dike.

Before the dike bursts, however, I believe that the Oligarchs (with the aid of their Cronies in DC...just like before) will pull off one or two more great heists...bailouts and trillions in loans (like before) at less than 1% interest. Everything's pretty much in place for that to happen again. The biggest things in the financial markets STILL are derivatives...they're still being sold hand over fist...and they're STILL backed by zero reserves. It's the biggest scam in the history of humankind...all for the benefit of Oligarchs, and all facilitated by their Cronies in DC---Repubs and Dems. The One Percenters appear to be very short-term thinkers. They will get more billions to secure their immediate families, and the rest of us can go to hell and/or the poorhouse.

As to emerging from the ashes with a leaner, more conservative theme, I hope not...because today's "Conservatism", based on what I've seen from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, the anchor on Fox (name escapes me), Bill Kristol, etc. appears to be a cross between Attila the Hun and Trotskyism. I'm serious...it barely resembles Conservatism at all. It's NEO-conservatism, through and through. They don't believe in Peace through Strength; rather, they believe in Peace through WAR... pre-emptive war...in other words, naked aggression. That's very UNconservative. In the financial/economic arena, they believe in working with Cronies in DC in order to rig the game in their favor, making them richer & richer. Supposedly, according to the propaganda, that's so they can "create jobs". What a joke and a scam. Instead they destroy jobs, eliminate jobs, ship jobs offshore, cut costs by eliminating benefits, hire part-time workers, fire those about to retire, and in general, play the Enron Game. All very UNconservative.

I believe some millionaires/billionaires have made it honestly, but in general, I think one has to be unethical or crooked, or both, in order to get to that level. Very UNconservative.

So, my preference (coming from the ashes) would be the Capitalist version of Anarcho-Syndicalism. [There is a Socialist version, but I don't advocate that one.] As viewed today, "Conservatism" simply isn't lean enough. Today's "Conservatism" is way too Statist in nature. Just my opinion.

Be Well, Pard