Economic Slavery under the guise of American Capitalism

How we are economically enslaved by corporations, and the US government is an unindicted co-conspirator.

It’s no secret that living in the United States is no longer the greatest, most prosperous, opportunity-laden experience in the world. There are a growing list of sacrifices and consequences of becoming addicted to living in America. In short, you must be willing to accept an uncertain fate that’s riddled with financial, legal and physical pitfalls, and you must be prepared for an unending struggle to keep your head above water. America is a 3-ring circus of rugged individualist proletariat, herded by the bourgeois, surrounded by the somewhat anonymous, grinning, one-percenters who rule them all.

What is Economic Slavery?

“Formerly when a man worked ten hours a day, it was called economic slavery; nowadays it is called moonlighting.”
– Evan Esar

The cultural conditioning we’ve grown to accept is that working hard is simply a way to get ahead. We’ve accepted that, if we can just keep up our rugged individualist nature long enough; eventually, we will make it. We all just assume ‘making it’ means we’re rich, or at least, not poor. Some people used to call that, “retirement”. The problem is that we’ve been at this for 40+ years and it’s completely unsustainable. A bubble of faith if you will — we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires after all.

The cost of living keeps going up, our earnings don’t seem to keep up, the pitfalls of life seem to happen more frequently, and that notion of retirement seems to be farther ahead then we thought. Yet we keep going, as fast as we can, towards that sweet spot way in the future where we’ll all enjoy umbrellas in drinks by the pool in the tropics. But that day doesn’t come for most Americans and we can’t put our finger on why. In fact, most people die long before reaching anything that resembles retirement.

Any valiant effort to dig into this topic reveals a shortlist of accusations of why individuals don’t succeed in life, such as, ‘poor choices’, ‘lack of effort’, or just plain dumb unluckiness. But few stumble onto the core causes of our economic woes. Some are afraid to even say the words, “Economic Slavery”. You could call it, “systemic artificially manipulated markets and labor control” but that would be misleading or fall short of the whole truth. Most of the arguments for our current system are recklessly intertwined with what is currently considered, “American Capitalism”. It’s our very own style of Capitalism that relies on unproven economic theories and a plethora of economic concepts that resemble a well-lighted Christmas Tree with the 1% pretending to be the crowning angel at the top. The reality is much more sinister. Our economic system is riddled with purposely oppressive policies and oppressive practices — all held in high regard by the bourgeois, of course. Unofficially, our economic system is Economic Slavery. The best slaves don’t know they’re slaves.

Wikipedia describes oppression like this, Oppression can refer to an authoritarian regime controlling its citizens via state control of politics, the monetary system, media, and the military; denying people any meaningful human or civil rights; and terrorizing the populace through harsh, unjust punishment, and a hidden network of obsequious informants reporting to a vicious secret police force.

Let’s break that down. Simply put, an “authoritarian regime” is a government that concentrates political power in an authority not responsible to the people. Sounds an awful lot like the US Government to me. There’s no doubt that our government is ‘controlling it’s citizens’ through politics, our monetary system, the media, and the military. Some may argue the next part is questionable, “denying people any meaningful human or civil rights”. Fortunately, the Declaration of Independence explains what ‘human’, or inalienable rights are.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
United States Declaration of Independence, 1776

Unalienable Rights are human rights that cannot be taken away; therefore, in the United States of America, human rights are basically, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. It says, “among these” to express that there are more rights that are also self-evident (Civil Rights, for example). Moreover, anything that oppresses or hinders those rights is denying the people their human rights. In fact, the 5th Amendment guarantees that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”. Nevertheless, anyone can cite numerous violations of human and civil rights throughout history all the way up until today. And we know more are going to happen tomorrow. It is a guarantee.

Civil rights are basically, “the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.” They are also the right to be free from economic or political oppression. According to a very detailed Wikipedia definition, Civil Rights, “are a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.

Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples’ physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, color, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, religion, and disability; and individual rights such as privacy and the freedoms of thought, speech, religion, press, assembly, and movement.

Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defense, and the right to vote.”

An oppressive government, coupled with a population that involuntarily works for the benefit of corporations, generally meets the basic criteria of economic slavery. But let’s take it a step further.

In the last 20 years, Law Enforcement agencies have become the secret police of corporate interests. They feed the private ‘prisons for profit’ (thanks to VP Joe Biden’s ‘crime bill’) and seem to be above the law when it comes to holding them accountable for injustices, and police brutality. Unchecked and unaccountable police departments and law enforcement agencies are one claw of the authoritarian efforts of the government. The legal system is another and has been proven to punish the poor and minorities unfairly. Despite the 8th Amendment, which was supposed to protect the people from the high cost of self-defense, legal battles cost most Americans financial ruin. It says, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Yet our legal system railroads people into cycles of poverty by ruining them financially. Fines for minor crimes and infractions have become ‘excessive’ and ‘unusual’ punishment for the alleged violation of simple traffic laws. Police brutality, stiff penalties, and municipalities using law enforcement to thwart peaceful protests, leading to long sentences for just being in a place where protests happen, is obviously “terrorizing the populace through harsh, unjust punishment.” All this leads to a strong case that the US has a significant civil and human rights problem. It all adds up to relentless power and control over the people.

This conspiracy between corporations and our government is no longer a secret. They are not trying to keep their collusion and corruption a secret anymore. I am sure you have seen the reckless disregard for human rights in the many videos of police abusing people. They’re a daily occurrence, and not uncommon any more. In fact, they are so common people are becoming numb to them. Protests are met with overwhelming police presence, and then a quelling of the peaceful assembly. Definitely not what the authors of the Bill of Rights had intended.

When considering the notion of denying the people meaningful human and civil rights, the evidence is pretty obvious. The conclusion is that the United States of America is an ‘authoritarian regime’, and is complicit and culpable to violations of the US Constitution against the people. Our government has colluded with Wall Street to economically enslave the people. Full stop. But let’s look deeper.

Somewhere in history the architects of economic slavery someone said, “But where do we get slaves from now that it’s illegal?” In order to maintain a steady supply of economic slaves without the people knowing they are slaves, corporations had to devise ways people would fall into their trap with some sense of free will. So they created debt and credit. Some crazy person came up with the idea that rich people should profit from lending money to poor people by telling them they too could become rich with just a hand up. The classic, “have-nots” borrowing money from the “haves” was born. The wealthy knew they could control the markets, prices, supply, and demand, so they ultimately controlled the time and effort it takes to pay off the debt. The way it works is that a few people must be lucky enough to actually succeed, while the masses are told, “just work harder” and one day you might be like that lucky person. It’s the carrot on the stick routine. Thus, credit was created. In the beginning, they made the interest so small it was hardly noticeable. But as time went by they said, “Hey, we can keep raising interest until a few of them go bankrupt. Then, at some point, we will maximize our profits and minimize our losses.” As time went by, fewer and fewer people could ever pay off the debt and the illusion of successful people was harder to propagandize. They defended their actions with so-called economic principles like, “what the market will bear”, and “supply and demand” to ensure public acceptance of their efforts.

American Capitalism

“I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”
― Eugene Deb

Corporations have long lobbied Congress, often behind closed doors, to put into place the laws they wrote that would make everything go smoothly for decades. Want proof of this? Easy. Why do you think we are punished for saving money by paying taxes on gains, and some are rewarded for going into debt (mortgages, business loans, etc)? It’s just one way the many ways our system funnels people into economic slavery. The more you owe, the more you must do the bidding of the system. Take student debt for example. In order to get ahead, they figured a way to make it difficult for poor people to overcome debt and economic oppression by creating student loans. Those student loans ensured that over time universities and colleges could continue to raise the cost of higher education forever. This also ensured the demise of public colleges and the wild growth of private colleges. In a democratic society where ‘we the people’ are properly represented, don’t you think an educated populace would mean more prosperity, a better society, and an improved global position? But to corporations, an educated population means higher wages, unions, liabilities, and higher costs for Wall Street companies. The same thing happened with the creation of credit cards and credit bureaus. You can’t rent a car without a credit card anymore. In fact, you can’t even rent an apartment or house without a positive credit check. They just call this American Capitalism, “it is the way it is”.

Debt, loans, and credit have been sold as a means to get ahead or stay above water. But it all adds up to a form of involuntary servitude. Sure, millions of people have been able to avoid debt, but most people survive on it just to make ends meet. It is estimated that most working Americans spend 110% of their annual income. Where do you think that extra 10% comes from? Once you’re hooked on credit, you’ll discover debt is very difficult to pay off, and the advantages you sought don’t pan out or pay enough. Two steps forward, three backward. Those in support of the current economic system blame everything except the system itself.

In December of 2018, the US Government shut down because of petty politics and an authoritarian president that thinks he should have the ‘power of the purse’ instead of Congress. The result has been an eye-opening experience for many Americans when they realized that even jobs most consider high-paying careers don’t pay enough to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. At least 75% of Federal Workers that are not receiving paychecks during the shutdown have no money to pay bills after just 14 days. Many are totally broke and still working with no idea when their next paycheck will come. That’s a more significant symptom of the economy than most will admit.

The American Dream

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
― Ronald Wright

The old concept of the American Dream is still in the back of our minds albeit covered in cobwebs. Economic disparity and oppression have led to a society that dreams of “following your passion” but 90% are forced into a default job just to live paycheck to paycheck. Most Americans don’t get to choose what job they get. The bills keep coming so they must accept whatever job is available. They accept less than enough because that ‘better job’ is not available. Moving to that proverbial ‘greener grass’ just isn’t affordable for most people. Most people are working 2–3 jobs and don’t have the time to consider all the options. This is why employers get away with paying low wages and providing no benefits while raking in massive profits.

Fun fact: 66% of all employees hate their jobs. 16.5% of them hate their jobs so much, they are actively disengaged from their work compared to only 34% who were considered engaged at work.

Each day hundreds of millions of hardworking Americans wake up in a home they can’t afford, struggle through rush hour traffic in cars they owe payments on, to do jobs they hate, work sick because they can’t afford medical bills or time off, only to come home to kids they rarely see. If that’s not economic slavery what would you call it?

If you want a deeper perspective on what economic oppression is, read “Analyzing Oppression” by Ann E. Cudd with the understanding that the “institutional structures” Cudd talks about are all driven, owned, or controlled by corporate interests.

For most of you reading this, I don’t need to list all the significant problems with our greed-based capitalist economy. You already know about wealth inequality, the decades of stagnant wages, and the rapid rising of the cost of living for more than 40 years. Below are a few charts I gathered to show how the data supports what I am saying. After the charts, I go into more depth on how economic slavery permeates our society and is sustained by corporate control of our congress.

You already know that while the cost of housing has gone up 6% on average every year for more than four decades, and corporate profits have steadily risen, wages have declined or been flat across the board when inflation is factored in.

A 6% increase in housing costs is completely unsustainable. There is no chance of Americans to ever keep up with that increase without a complete reboot of how we manage our economy. And that 6% of housing cost increases every year is just one part of the increase in the cost of living.

Home prices go up and so follows rents
Wages remained stagnant for most people from 1976 to today

Most of you already understand the root problems in America stem from unfettered greed, corporate lobbying, bill-mills, corporate funding of elections, and candidates that represent corporate interests rather than the people.

Corporate Profits continue to Soar!
Seems like corporate profits rose along with debt
The cost of living seems to also match corporate profits
Inflation also followed corporate profits
Meanwhile, corporate taxes continue to decrease

The vast majority of Americans know that big banks, pharmaceutical companies, the media, and Wall Street corporations have been silently influencing our government, writing our laws, and artificially manipulating the economy to suit their corporate agendas.

Our government is no longer representative of the people, they represent the interests of corporations and their shareholders. A Princeton Study revealed, The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

This chart follows the Princeton study. See the video link below

To explain the chart above, watch this video [video]

What does all this mean?

Your voice as an American, your letters to your representatives, your vote hasn’t changed anything significant in more than 40 years. Sure, some small measure of good things have happened to appease the public, but overall not much has happened to greatly benefit the people. The minuscule table scraps tossed upon the floor by corporations for what’s left of the middle class in America is simply not trickling down to the bottom 100 million people that are struggling to survive. By contrast, corporations have seen incredible gains on the backs of hardworking Americans during the same historic period. The summary is that Americans are economic slaves, some accept their fate, others live in denial, and a very small percentage feel helpless to do anything about it.

Ok, let’s say you don’t believe me? Try not paying your rent or mortgage; try not paying the bills and see what happens to you. If you think this is a free country, and you can just check out and live in the mountains, I got bad news for you. You can’t. That’s illegal in most places now. Even collecting water is illegal in some states. Living off-grid is often a violation of building code or zoning. Besides, if the 50 million people that are living in poverty could afford to move to some remote place to avoid the high cost of living, they would have already done so long ago. Homelessness is a crime in most cities across America. Don’t believe me? Take your sleeping bag and go sleep in front of your local grocery store, or better yet, on the sidewalk in front of your local representative’s house. If you tried to unsubscribe from the trappings of American Capitalism you will soon find yourself alone in a prison cell or rain-soaked in an alley somewhere amid toxic pollution, extreme poverty, and relentless crime.

Case in point: Tres Biggs went to jail for failing to appear in court for unpaid medical bills. If a corporation can use the legal system against people that owe them money, and the legal system enacts fines and fees, then that system is economically oppressive to the people and is beholden to corporations. In simpler terms, if people can’t pay, they are forced into court, if they can’t afford to go to court or must work, then they are fined or jailed. That is “indentured servitude” AKA: S L A V E R Y.

If you think this is a free country, you should test out your theory by going against the grain. You’ll quickly learn that the government has already thought of the many ways poor people might avoid society’s accepted ways of living in exchange for some kind of affordable non-traditional living. In fact, the way our system “works” is that, if you dare to ‘rock the boat’ with some out-of-the-box notion of non-standard living, you’ll begin the path to your own demise starting with being ticketed or arrested and fined.

Not having money means you’ll sit in jail. Then you’ll get fired for not showing up to work. Then you will not have money to pay off the fines or register your car. So your car will get towed, and you will not be able to afford to get it out. Now you can’t even get a job or pay for housing. It’s a vicious cycle that continues to hammer you until you give up and succumb to the way that society demands you live — a slave to the economy.

So if our wages don’t go up, but the cost of living does, and we need to go into debt to survive, it’s easy to see there’s a serious problem. If corporations keep making huge profits, and their taxes keep going down, but hardworking people don’t get raises, and go deep into debt trying to get ahead, you can see how that’s not sustainable. If we’re all trapped in an oppressive economic system that rewards those in power and punishes those who try to escape, what would you call it? I call it economic slavery.

Don’t believe people who say that all this nonsense is just American style Capitalism. You know better. You’ve seen the evidence. Now we’re just going to have to reboot the whole thing somehow.

In the meantime, what are the alternatives?

It’s not going to be easy to weather the economic storms that are coming. But there are some things you might consider to mitigate the woes of poverty and economic upheaval.

Remember that economic declines are no longer obvious, and the media fails to report them to ensure the stock market and politics are unaffected by negative realities. You’ll need to keep an eye out for yourselves. Your representatives aren’t watching out for you. The media isn’t ensuring you get the truth. You need to become an investigative journalist and dig deeper. Meanwhile, you need to abandon the notion that the government is going to save you and prepare for the worst.

First, you need to have the right mindset. Keeping up with the jones is no longer acceptable if you ever want to escape the coming economic collapse. You need to find ways to spend less, save more, and avoid financial obligations and debt. Reduce your debt if you can, but there are higher priorities like having a Plan B for housing, food, and water. In an economic disaster, having debt isn’t a priority. You can just ignore debt completely during any kind of economic collapse. You can’t eat bills, so don’t pay them if your income goes down or costs go up. Debt is just a manufactured social construct. Stop paying bills as soon as your budget no longer supports them. It’s as easy as that. The banks will survive without your monthly contribution. Sure, a bunch of brainwashed economic neanderthals will say ignoring your debt or bills is blasphemy. You can bet they are personally benefiting from the economic oppression that’s ruining America — whether they cognitively realize it or not.

Community is very important, especially if things get bad in America. But many of those communities will break down in difficult times for various reasons. Knowing friends with farms and mountain hideaways is a great start. But be prepared to be all alone in an economic disaster — if you must.

You’ll need to understand what the signs are, and how to react. Robotics and Automation, for example, are strong indicators that corporations no longer need human labor. That leads to massive unreported unemployment. When the media says unemployment is high, you can bet it’s astronomically higher than they say it is. When they say it’s low, it’s a guaranteed lie. If you go to the store and see one cashier and 6 self-checkout stations open, that’s a sign. Gas stations are already empty with no attendants. Even Mcdonald’s are going 100% automated soon. The replacement of human labor by robots is an unforgiving trend in an economy that demands higher incomes to meet higher costs of living every year. As time goes by you’ll see more and more signs of automation taking away jobs. Outside of McDonald’s you’ll see the side effects — homelessness, poverty, and dispair.

If your income goes up less than 6% per year, then you are falling behind the cost of living which increases at least 6% every single year.

If you are falling behind, reduce your cost of living by 6% per year to help keep up. It’s not possible for most people but try to downsize your housing and bills if possible. File bankruptcy is you are insolvent. Corporations do it all the time. In fact, PG&E in California is doing it just because they want to avoid being liable for legal costs due to fires they caused. And it’s the second time they’ve done that in 10 years. So you should not be ashamed to file bankruptcy. Take all the money you would have paid to debtors and invest in your own economic survival. Many people struggle to pay all their bills and at the end of the month, they have no food, no money, and are forced to start over again like they did the month before. That’s not “living” paycheck to paycheck. That’s “existing” paycheck to paycheck.

All the doomsayers will tell you to invest in Gold or some other commodity. Don't! You can’t eat gold. Gold is just another fake social construct that is worthless in an economic disaster, and here’s proof:

Say you have a bunch of heavy gold bars and you’re starving. You bought gold because, well, money doesn’t grow on trees! A guy with a sack full of apples comes down the street and you offer to trade some gold for his apples. Your smallest gold bar is worth $100. He offers to give you 4 apples for your smallest gold bar. You try to haggle, but hunger gets the best of you and you settle for 6 apples for $100 worth of Gold. I think it’s a great deal because now that guy is stuck with something basically worthless, and you’re not hungry and could plant the seeds to grow more apples. Had you invested in $100 worth of seeds or farmland much earlier, you would not be begging in the streets just to eat something that grows on trees.

Another way of looking at it:

If gold is so gosh-darn important, why are those survivalists and doomsayers selling all of it instead of keeping it for themselves?

Don’t invest in heavy metals or junk. If you can buy a farm or survival gear, stored drinking water, seeds, alcohol, ammunition, etc. Those are better investments.

Getting away from big cities is probably a safe bet. Those will likely become hell once most people who can’t survive on their own flock to cities to beg for help from local governments. The food and clean water will be more scarce there than anywhere else. Safety will be a constant concern in and around big cities during a large-scale financial collapse. If you’re reading this, you probably have time to consider relocating to some small town or rural area away from big cities and metropolitan areas. It’s a good way to reduce your cost of living as well. But most people can’t afford to move or to be prepared. Sadly, it is expensive to protect yourself from economic slavery or an economic collapse. It’s designed that way.

Cut your costs and increase your income. It’s obviously not as simple as that. But you don’t need a brand new car, and you don’t need to redo the carpets or the kitchen every year. Invest in a solid, reliable vehicle that can get you to your safe place in a hurry. If you are already in a good spot to weather the economic downturn, then invest in security and self-preservation. Consider water catchment, gardening, solar power, living offgrid, etc. Find cheaper hobbies like camping which helps to hone your survival skills.

Does it sound like I am fear-mongering? I’m not. I’m just being “real” about realities we’re living in. Worst case scenario, you’re better prepared. There’s no downside. Therefore, in the meantime, the alternatives are to cut costs, increase your investment in your ability to survive in difficult times and to stay alert to the signs of bad things that might come your way so you can avoid them by reacting quickly.

Best of luck!

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Writer, traveler, self-employed web developer, beer aficionado, Pastafarian, Progressive, location-independent