Are Americans Willing Victims or Merely Confused?

In a recent opinion piece at the site of the Wall Street Journal, James Grant — the editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. asks Why No Outrage?.

Why indeed? It’s beginning to seem as if a vast transfer of wealth has occurred, a transfer from mostly the middle-class to a grasping minority. It’s likely that many have dropped from a middle-class economic status and many more children of prosperous workers have lost their chance to reach the living-style as adults which they enjoyed in their parents’ houses. It’s also likely that the upward path into greater physical prosperity has been largely blocked for those who are poor and those who made decent livings in jobs that break down the human body. To be sure, we were unlikely to maintain our very high living-standards for so many citizens but we didn’t have to also transfer so much wealth from the many to the few.

Our bankers, private and public, have continued the tradition set by Lyndon Johnson with his illegal and off balance-sheet financing of the war against the Vietnamese people, not that any presidents since Johnson have missed many opportunities to loot American assets to fund their favorite projects, many simply irrational and others intended to purchase the loyalty of specific groups of voters or deep-pocket contributors. Americans seem to have forgotten that the cash which comes from mortgaging assets isn’t a true increase in wealth. It’s cash you’ve received for an encumbrance upon your property (as an individual or as a citizen of a certain political entity). Sometimes it makes sense to borrow on some assets and sometimes it’s just an inefficient and dangerous way to endanger your title to your own house or the assets which will provide for your retirement or medical care.

This is a serious mess we’re in. I’m relatively optimistic in thinking we can reorganize our economy and our governments, but we need to make a firm decision to deal with our problems and that means, first of all, that we must understand our situation so that we can begin to act rationally to protect our families and to turn our country in a better direction.

We need to realize that credit not tied to actual growth of real income is inflationary. Don’t feel sorry just for those losing their houses or those who can’t find a good mortgage. The inflationary damage of bad mortgages and bad credit-card debt and various forms of bad loans to stock-brokers and bankers and corporations has taken a hunk of flesh from nearly all citizens in this world though I think Americans have paid the biggest price to date. On the other hand, American politicians and a small number of now-wealthy businessmen and Wall Street sharks have been the biggest personal beneficiaries. We have a growing number of billionaire investment bankers and politicians who hold questionable fortunes of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. We also have a shrinking number of families who could even afford to buy their own houses if they were starting over again. With the growing budget problems in local governments and the shrinking tax base, I think we may be looking at a future where we’ll not be able to maintain our roads or bridges. Our sanitary systems maybe even be in danger, especially in some of the older cities on the East Coast of the United States. I fear that even our school systems are in danger and we may soon see many American children sent to work in fields or factories in their early teens. Or earlier.

I repeat my question:

Are Americans Willing Victims or Merely Confused?

I’d say, “Confused.” Politicians and corporate executives and various sorts of bankers have created a system so complicated that few have the knowledge or thinking skills to understand the debt-financed prosperity of recent decades was just borrowing on the future by way of selling off assets that we’ll soon need and that future generations will need before long. There may be some who don’t want to understand so long as the party continues.

We should be outraged at politicians and businessmen alike. We Americans can start in the voting booth this fall. In the interests of non-partisanship, I’ll suggest that you vote for Ralph Nader or Ron Paul depending upon your overall political stance, even if you have to write-in the name.

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