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Volume 1-2020

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Revolution in America - 2020

Are we on the verge of a new world, or just in the grip of a pandemic fever dream?

 

Continued from the front page...

The Paycheck Protection Program

"You needed 500 or less workers, and some of these well-heeled businesses met that criteria."

That's what Trump Administration economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC when asked how it is that so many well-to-do businesses benefited so greatly from the PPP program. That was loan money given to businesses to allay the layoffs of employees due to the Coronavirus business shutdown.

That money went first to businesses with close relationships with their bankers - meaning those who probably didn't need the money - while businesses in desperate need of assistance from a government that ordered their shutdowns went wanting. They are still wanting, but while there remains $130 billion available, small businesses are not rushing in to get it, even as they are wondering how they will survive.

Their reluctance is all around the changing rules, and the "partial forgiveness" of these loans based on the percentage a business devotes to payroll. The rule (presently) is that business owners have up to 24 weeks to use their loan proceeds. Initially, owners could receive partial forgiveness on their loans if 75 percent was used to retain employees during that 24-week period. Then that was lowered to 60 percent, giving owners more flexibility to use the loans for expenses other than payroll. Use this link to see the SBA's list of companies who have taken PPP loans.

Governments at all levels have been spotty about how they have handled the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result the U.S. is not going to be able to return to business as it was for months, maybe years. Many small businesses will not see a return of the traffic that they need to balance their books. The PPP loans will run out, and the federal government is loathe to issue another because many Americans have been paid more to stay home than to go to their now possibly dangerous minimum wage jobs. The hospitality industry will not be recovering any time soon, and hospitality industry workers will be losing their jobs in the near future, if they haven't already. These people did nothing wrong, and they are going to be frustrated and angry. How will they express that anger, in an election year, and how will the government respond?

Government Responsibility

How is it that the government can mandate a shutdown of businesses, forcing many into catastrophic financial circumstances that require that they get a bank loan at interest? Loan recipients agree to pay a "1.00% fixed interest rate; two-year or five-year term depending on the date of the PPP loan origination...: Use this link for a further explanation of the PPP program. These are not businesses who are in the difficult economic situations they are in due to mismanagement or malfeasance of any kind, but rather due to "an act of God" - this virus. So why must they enrich the already wealthy, or borrow from a taxpayer account they have paid into themselves, to ensure their survival?

Unrest in the Streets

Reaction to recorded police violence against Black citizens has finally become impossible to control, and so for weeks the streets of America's major cities have been filled with protesters organized around the Black Lives Matter movement. These have been largely peaceful, with the exception of brief, violent outbursts of vandalism and property destruction. The City of Seattle saw blocks of businesses shut down by protesters who established a police free "autonomous" zone, which was only challenged after protesters with long assault weapons started showing up among the protest group and several people were shot.

America's protests have become a difficult phenomena to analyze because so many interest groups have found leverage and opportunity within what has become a breakdown in the social order. America's right-wing groups see the globalist George Soros behind the anti-fascist movement, which along with the white supremacists groups make up the most aggressive actors in the drama. Black Lives Matter has violent elements within its makeup, though the most dangerous aspect among all these groups is decentralized leadership - or a complete lack thereof. We are seeing a level of meaningless violence and destruction, with people committing illegal acts because the time seems right, and little else.

Will the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement lead to change?

Bleeding Hearts

The answer is likely "no" because there is no consensus on the issue, nor even a clear sense of what the negotiated agreements might be.

For every Black person whose heart has been broken by the violent acts of bad cops, there is an American voter who notes that these instances of police brutality are (almost) always the result of a person resisting the demands of an arresting officer. For whatever reason, the person being stopped by the police pushes back against demands, offers resistance, or attempts to flee the scene, and the situation then escalates into a violent exchange.

A couple things stand out. One is that our police officers seem not to know how to handle de-escalation of conflict. They seem to often do the dumb thing, the brutish maneuver, and too often they seem guided by base emotions that they are expected to be trained to control.

Policing is a vicious cycle. Citizens do awful things that police, on a daily basis, are responsible for addressing, and over time they become callous and some become mean. There are all sorts of societal conditions that create this constant flow of street crime and injustice.

We are probably smart enough as a society to imagine policing done in a way that avoids escalation of violence. We either are not smart enough, or simply lack the will, to imagine a society ordered in such a way that it doesn't crank out criminal perpetrators and violent thug cops, Legislation helps, but America's problems are stem to our sick heart, which won't let us seek solutions or even consider our situations honestly. America is in desperate need of a spiritual revolution, though what we are going to get is civil war.

The Coming Civil War

Americans are buying guns at an alarming pace, and just in the last couple months the homicide rates in our major cities have soared. Our calls for police reform have already taken a grim toll on our citizenry, apparently opening a portal to an ungoverned universe in which innocent children become victims of random violence, while the police pull back in surrender, afraid to perform duties they are no longer certain of how to do.

One suspects that the BLM call for reparations to be paid to Black people for the country's history of racist policies and actions will be the breaking point for many conservative Whites. To them, they have been paying reparations to Black people since the Emancipation Proclamation. Every time they turn on their TV news they see police footage of the arrest of another Black person, confirming their racist suspicions that Blacks are near the root of all evil in America, though the real root issue is economics. America's brand of capitalism is predatory and wrong and Blacks are merely the first to be squeezed out of its support structure. It is next to impossible to squeeze back in without educational qualifications and a strong sense of how to effectively manage life in our economic jungle. People un-equipped to survive that pressure cooker will turn to whatever means they might have to survive, and doing anything outside of the mainstream in America will attract police. And our police are rarely the best and the brightest among us. In fact, they are probably struggling to survive this cruel world themselves, and in their hyperbolized worlds they act out and make catastrophic errors in judgment.

We decry gun violence and then stock up on guns, because we are afraid of our neighbors and the strangers in our lives. All that firepower rarely leads to a happy end. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that of the 50,000 or so suicides we see in the U.S. each year, about 60% of them are people shooting themselves. In fact, you are 61% more likely to die of suicide by firearm than to be killed by some other shooter. Americans don't protect themselves with firearms so much as they use them to end their own suffering.

By the way, we are far from the most suicidal of all nations. Lithuania holds that distinction, and nobody is better at killing themselves than Lithuanian men (58 in every 100,000). All of the former Soviet Union countries have high rates of suicide, as do some under-developed Asian countries. What do they all have in common? Poverty.

It is easy to imagine that the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic, police overhaul, calls for reparations to be paid to Blacks, election politics, and a disintegrating economy will lead to a collision of interests the likes of which the U.S. has not known since 1860.

I foresee death and destruction and don't see that anything good can come of it. Our country, through our political polarization and distrust of government, has boxed itself in to a conflict that can have no resolution, short of surrender by the other side.

There doesn't seem to be any guiding vision to any of it. Donald Trump managed to get elected in a broken system by promising to break the system. Nothing is being built that would somehow manifest some American promise that cannot exist as long as Americans sense the emptiness at the heart of our political/economic system.

Sand Castles

We have built a house on lies. From our religious belief systems to our political and economic systems, Americans have attempted to operate in an environment of corruption that is calibrated to rescind their gains every certain number of years. We have economic cycles, and those cycles have been getting closer and closer together, until finally a person struggling in our economic system can feel guaranteed that whatever they gains they make in this decade will be assets they give back in the next. We have an entire banking and mortgage industry built around the constant churn of real estate properties. About a third of our annual home sales are reselling foreclosed properties.

In our world of fiat currency, money is just a conceptual tool of exchange "guaranteed by the full faith and authority" of the government. Otherwise put, it is just the way we quantify our obligations to the people we had to kowtow to in order to ensure our further survival. This is not an obligation of material value, but rather one of honor and coercion.

In the U.S., there are just over 800 billionaires, and a whole bunch more millionaires, and then this vast sea of people who exist further down the economic ladder. People recognize wealth as a pyramid structure, with the broad base representing the poorest economic class.

At the top of the structure are people who hold the economic debts of the world. The only reason the pyramid has any power at all is because those few at the top say it has power, and they have the means to enforce their rules. And their rules say that the money they loaned must be repaid in full and with interest. They alone have the power to create that cudgel and then to use it, and they alone could cancel all debt obligations owed to them.

The key point is that were they to forgive those obligations, nothing would change.

Nothing would change because nothing that makes our world - even our economics - work has anything to do with anything tangible beyond the fungible nature of money. The reality of the world has to do with natural resources and how they are used, and with the vision and willing sweat equity of humankind.

So much of what we do in life has no real meaning, and we would likely stop doing those jobs if we weren't being paid to do them. On the other hand, some jobs are truly essential. We wouldn't stop producing power, for instance, if suddenly there was no money in it because some efforts produce a utility that we would choose not to do without. Those utility workers would keep going to work because the utility keeps progress moving ahead. They and their families need to eat, of course, and as essential workers they should be provided for by other essential workers, like farmers. Farmers, who must pay for seed, should be able to provide for those essential power workers without having their own resources diminished, but like everyone in the pyramid they have no choice.

Money is merely the control device that allows each individual in the economic pyramid to leverage advantage over the people on the tiers below.

It is a clever trick, evil as sin. The guy you owe money to can't simply forgive your debt, and write it off, because he owes money to someone above him in the pyramid, and that person will not forgive his debts because they are indebted to the person above them, and they can't forgive the debt because they are indebted to the person above them.

It is all "fake news", as Donald Trump likes to say, and he should know as his entire life story has been built on such and has had little to do with reality. He once claimed in court testimony that his net worth was dependent upon how he feels from one day to the next.

It is amazing that the whole system of economic slavery has lasted as long as it has, sustained only through brute force. If you don't pay up, the Sheriff is going to come kick you out of your home. The Sheriff isn't acting on moral principle, but rather just doing the job the guy above him in the pyramid paid him to do - enforce this phony system.

When you think of who the guy at the top of this pyramid of power must be, is it any wonder that people have imagined something Satanic or Luciferian? Americans don't know the difference, which no doubt factors into this entire problem.

 

 

 

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Copyright July, 2020 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)