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Weekend Reader: ‘Ghosts Of Tom Joad: A Story Of The #99Percent’

Memo Pad Weekend Reader

Weekend Reader: ‘Ghosts Of Tom Joad: A Story Of The #99Percent’


At age 53, everything changed. I was run out of the good job I had held for over 20 years, and for a long time the pension I’d earned, the thing I had counted on to provide for me, was in jeopardy. My skill set was pretty narrow, the market was tough and nobody with a salaried job to offer seemed interested in an old guy… and I needed some money. The sign pointed one way: retail and minimum wage. Those experiences at a store we’ll call here “Bullseye” helped inspire my new book, Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent. Here’s an excerpt from the book:

You can purchase the book here

Let the young men in other small Ohio towns dream of bright lights. In Reeve, Ohio we thought growing up we were going to work in that factory. But while we thought it was drawn in ink, it was really watercolor. There were pieces of machinery from the factory left on the ground, too unimportant to sell off, too heavy to move, too bulky to bury, left scattered like clues from a lost civilization, droppings of our failure. Might as well been the bones of the men who worked there.

After the factory was gone, we got a big-box retail store in called Bullseye. They held a Job Fair, with tables set up in the other high school’s gym, decorated with a few tired balloons, which was all that stood for the Fair part. A lot of people were already lined up when I got there, and the Bullseye people were wearing their bright blue vests, looking us over like livestock. We covered a lot of ground, from last year’s model of homecoming queen to retired guys who couldn’t afford to retire. “Interested in loading dock?” they said to me, “C’mon over and talk about cosmetics here,” they’d say to the pretty high school girls. We were good little pieces of meat.

My job was real easy to learn. There was no apprentice system here, no paid jobs for boiler operators’ assistants, no plumber’s helpers. I walked in and Steve the Team Leader, said “Take the pick sheet there, go to the truck, hit them boxes with that barcode gun, then initial the pick sheet. Fifteen minute break’s at noon. Late from break twice and you’re fired. Bullseye welcomes you as a valuable addition to our team, um, Earl.” He’d looked up just at the end at my name tag. It was almost like Bullseye didn’t want him to think much. Maybe us neither.

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It was hard to get to know the other workers, the associates, as we were told not to talk and because, as I came to learn, the bar code scanner was kind of watching over me. On days when I apparently wasn’t doing things fast enough, Steve the Team Leader would come out and tell me I was not performing to my full potential as a valued teammate and that meant I had to work faster. I did. I wasn’t sure how fast was right, or fast enough, and so I tried to just do it all as fast as I was able. Steve the Team Leader’s job to make sure Bullseye made money, he said. That was what I came to know as management. Still, it was better than when I worked off-the-books for a while in the craft store at Christmas, coming home like a stripper with a pocket full of ones and fives covered in glitter.

Kevin the Store Manager was always encouraging us to talk to him about anything. “My door is always open,” he said, before going into his office and closing the door. One time I knocked, and standing in the doorway I asked him about having a break more often, just a few minutes to sit down and take a load off, and Kevin the Store Manager said:

“You’re lucky to have this job. Lotta people out there who’d take your place.”

“I know Kevin, and I’m grateful. I’d just like a chance to sit down and eat a regular lunch on long shifts.”

“Well, we all gotta do what is best for Bullseye. Careful you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

I got it. Even if I’m never fed.

People not caring like that let the bullies get in charge. When I was a kid I really believed the border between me and the world leaked both ways, so that I could maybe affect things instead of just being affected by them, but it’s different now when you work for a company like Bullseye. At that point you realize that not everything is possible, and that changes everything.


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  1. FredAppell May 3, 2014

    Welcome to the United States of Enslavement er; I mean America!

    1. charleo1 May 4, 2014

      Welcome indeed, to the un-United States of Enslavement. It makes
      you mad, doesn’t it? It makes me mad as hell. If I could somehow
      put one truth into the minds of my fellow Americans it would be, it
      doesn’t have to be this way. If we lived in China, then yes, we’d not
      have any say. Even if the Chinaman knows it’s wrong to lock the
      factory door on the outside, and a gas leak or fire would kill him, and
      hundreds of his fellow workers, he can’t do anything about it. Because he has no vote, no say in the matter. Unlike American workers, who have let some slick politicians talk them into doing away with the labor unions, in favor of a law named, “Right to Work.” The Chinaman never had any Rights to be talked out of to begin with. It’s always been a real head scratcher for me, that Americans with a Bill of Rights, and at least as many protections against a tyrannical Government as any other people on Earth. Thought they needed an extra law to protect their Right to work? Now that the corporations have outlawed the labor unions, undercut the small businesses, taken over, and bankrupted the government. While Americans are reduced to begging a faceless corporate structure for a livable wage, hat in hand, without a leg to stand on. The battle for a decent standard of living is over, and we lost. That is, unless it ever dawns on enough of us, the corporations didn’t impose this economy on us. We have allowed this to happen to ourselves. It doesn’t have to be this way. Unlike the Chinaman, we have the power to turn this all around. To realize all this, that is going on is BS. That nowhere is it written that in order to have a competitive economy, 50 or 60 million of us need live in squalled conditions, without adequate medical care. Or on the government dole. Who said? And why are we listening to them?

      1. FredAppell May 4, 2014

        Charleo1, I think this is one of the very few times where your anger is extremely evident to me. It suits you well my friend.
        Everything you’ve said is spot on and it’s what I’ve been saying for the past year on this site. We have done this to ourselves. We were all complacent, especially when times were good. There was so much growth going on in the 90’s
        that is was difficult to see what was around the corner…If I wasn’t making enough money, it wasn’t hard to move on to another job to make ends meat with a little something extra in my pocket to spend however I saw fit. We allowed ourselves to slowly descend back to Twain’s version of the Gilded Age. Part of the problem is our desire to consume and to possess
        as much materialism as possible, it was bound to come crashing down sooner or later because of it’s unsustainability.
        A society that values materialism above it’s own good is bound to reap the consequences for such actions.

        That said, we shouldn’t stop fighting for a more comfortable lifestyle but words such as moderation seems to be lost to the external lexicon these days.

        1. charleo1 May 4, 2014

          Well, that’s right. Who looks for bad times, when the
          economy is going along quite nicely? Who watches
          Congress like hawk, when they are aiding, and abetting the most colossal scam,(collateralized debt,) and wealth redistribution scheme, (the Bush tax cuts,) from the middles class, to the top of the income scale. To essentially fund the building of the manufacturing, base, and middle class consumer market, in the People’s Republic of China. As if this wasn’t bad enough. Now, as millions of Americans fall out of the Middle Class, lose access to the healthcare market, lose 10s of thousands in their major investments, their home, and retirement accounts are folded into their employer’s company’s net assets, they harangue the very people they knew beforehand were going to get blindsided, and clobbered, as being lazy, or not having a culture, or work ethic. How sleazy is that How unAmerican is that? They say a psychopath is just like any other person, except they don’t have an ability to feel empathy for the pain they inflict on their victims. They’ll kill other people’s children for their own purposes. And it never occurs to them, how they would grieve as a parent, if their own child was taken. And however these people explain to themselves their own selfish actions. I don’t hold them as being any better, or having any more morals, than the common thieves running some of the largest operations in the Country. And like the psychopaths, they are not only stealing today’s daily bread. They are stealing our children’s futures as well.

          1. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            And they add insult to injury by calling anyone who opposes or criticizes them as being unpatriotic.Could they be any more dishonest?

          2. charleo1 May 4, 2014

            I’m afraid to say how they could be more dishonest.
            They might get another idea from it somehow. Like,
            Say! I was reading this blog, where someone ask this idiot if he knew how we Fat Cats, could be any more dishonest? Well, this is just crazy enough to

          3. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            God Forbid, I would laugh at your comment if it weren’t for the fact that it is as sad as it is funny.I hate to think that some sorry son of a bitch would mine our comments for new rip-off ideas.

  2. John Kenner May 4, 2014

    Since modern civilization’s complexity makes it more difficult to find the best niche for our unique skills and talents, stress and discontent tend to arise more easily as civilization grows more complicated and fast-paced.

  3. lottopol May 4, 2014

    “..In free-market capitalism, capital generates income for the owners of the capital which in turn is used to create additional capital. This is very good. Sometimes, it can be actually too good. As capital continues to
    accumulate, its owners find it more and more difficult to deploy it
    efficiently. The business sector generally must interact with the household
    sector by selling goods and services or lending to them. When capital
    accumulates too rapidly, the productive capacity of the business sector can
    outpace the ability of the household sector to absorb the increasing

    The capitalists, or if you prefer, job creators use their increasing wealth and income to reinvest, thus increasing the productive capacity of the business they own. They also lend their accumulated wealth to other business as well as other entities after they have exhausted opportunities within business they own. As they seek to deploy ever more capital, excess factories, housing and shopping centers are built and more and more dubious loans are made. This is overinvestment. As one banker described
    the events leading up to 2008 – First the banks lent all they could to those
    who could pay them back and then they started to lend to those could not pay them back. As cash poured into banks in ever increasing amounts, caution was thrown to the wind. For a while consumers can use credit to buy more goods and services than their incomes can sustain. Ultimately, he overinvestment resultsin a financial crisis that causes unemployment, reductions in factoryutilization and bankruptcies all of which reduce the value of investments.

    If the economy was suffering from accumulated chronic underinvestment, shifting income from the non-rich to the rich would make sense. Underinvestment would mean there was a shortage of shopping centers,
    hotels, housing and factories were operating at 100% of capacity but still not able to produce as many cars and other goods as people needed. It might not seem fair, but the quickest way to build up capital is to take income away from the middle class who have a high propensity to consume and give to the rich who have a propensity to save (and invest). Except for periods in the 1950s and 1960s and possibly the 1990’s when tax rates on the rich just happened to be high enough to prevent overinvestment, the economy has generally suffered from periodic overinvestment cycles.

    It is not just a coincidence that tax cuts for the rich have preceded both the 1929 and 2007 depressions. The Revenue acts of 1926 and 1928
    worked exactly as the Republican Congresses that pushed them through promised. The dramatic reductions in taxes on the upper income brackets and estates of the wealthy did indeed result in increases in savings and investment. However, overinvestment (by 1929 there were over 600 automobile manufacturing companies in the USA) caused the depression that made the rich, and most everyone else, ultimately much poorer.

    Since 1969 there has been a tremendous shift in the tax burdens away from the rich on onto the middle class. Corporate income tax receipts, whose incidence falls entirely on the owners of corporations, were 4%
    of GDP then and are now less than 1%. During that same period, payroll tax rates as percent of GDP have increased dramatically. The overinvestment problem caused by the reduction in taxes on the wealthy is exacerbated by the increased tax burden on the middle class. While overinvestment creates more factories, housing and shopping centers; higher payroll taxes reduces the purchasing power of middle-class consumers. …”

    1. charleo1 May 4, 2014

      Our present economy is the perfect example of what happens when politicians start making up their own fables, and fairy tales about who the real, “job creators,” are. And suddenly it becomes the investor, and not the consumer, that needs protecting, and bucking up. The consumer in this cleverly concocted miscarriage of economic law, becomes expendable. As in not necessary. The economy of rock bottom wages, and soft demand, causes an oversupply of labor, exacerbating the original malady of too little demand. Then, this is twisted into a sop story about the rich not having enough capital left over after a big bloated Federal government gets through taxing, and regulating them, to invest and create enough jobs for everyone. Which leads to budget busting tax policies, handed out to the rich for any investment they make. Which includes shipping out middle class jobs to Communist China. It clobbers the U.S. but who cares?Because of the labor differential, profits are 3X bigger. And the only real investment in the U.S. with a guaranteed return, is mortgage backed securities. With a little rigging of interest rates, every piece of real estate can be made to look as if it’s value is increasing at 10%, 15% even 20% a year, guaranteed, AAA. With a little insurance policy, a default swap, that makes me a winner either way. Plus, with the U.S. economy becoming a low wage, investment wasteland. Without people using their inflated home equities as a piggy bank, it would really be a loser. But, if they want to believe the rich create jobs. Why would I want to tell them any different?

      1. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

        One would think that the decrease in consumption of goods would result in the decrease of profits for the producers of those goods and engender a positive policy change,but obviously we are seeing a case of heads I win,tails you lose.
        I hope it is not too much of an understatement to say that the system has been gamed and the odds have all been gathered by one side.

        1. FredAppell May 4, 2014

          So true Mark! Check out my reply to charleo1, it’s right in line with what you’re describing. It’s not an understatement at all in what you said, as a matter of fact, with credit replacing money, it has made it easier
          for the ponzi scheme to work.

          1. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            I read the reply Fred,Good Post.Unfortunately during those good times when the country was flush with money,the country was too busy enjoying itself when it should have been using some of those extra funds for infra-structure improvements.Instead,all those funds that were not spent on material gain,were used to generate more capital.About the same time my bank was bought out by Bank of America.I had been building a good line of credit up to that point but when I applied for a small car loan with B.O.A. I was denied because I didn’t want to borrow enough and the bank did not want to loan less than $10K. The result was that the branch manager tried to get me to apply for the banks credit card and then use the card to purchase a vehicle.I bet they would have loved that.

          2. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            Damn right, I admit to spending like a drunken sailor during those times, it was foolish but I was too naive in thinking that things would change. And I don’t actually believe that anything has changed except that it has taken some time for this redistribution scam to finally expose itself. It wasn’t so obvious to me back then. My father tried to teach me the importance of saving money which I was pretty good at early on. But as my income started to grow, so did my desires. That’s when I started developing my credit which the importance of was also taught to me from an early age. As wages grew stagnant or even fell, what was once easy to manage has become a living nightmare. I suspect because of your good credit, B.O.A. realized that unless you borrowed their preferred amount, they couldn’t fleece you like they do everyone else. They’ve gotten too big and have their interests in way too many schemes and that’s what Glass-Steagall was in place to stop from occurring. It was the best banking regulation we had in place.

          3. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            I really didn’t get too crazy at that time beyond spending money on my fishing ops and my woman.I was busy making money as an over the road trucker and a self employed commercial fisherman on Chesapeake Bay.I could sense that the jig was up by the late eighties when corporate America once again broke faith with the workers over the government mandate to provide health benefits.That was when a full time job got hard to find,not that I was looking.They found their favorite loophole to that law and began to cut hours as well as wages.
            As far as the B.O.A. thing goes,I went ahead and got their credit card and I still have it with a very ample credit line,but you can bet your ass that I never used it to buy a vehicle and only use a fraction of the credit available.My hard times arrived much later,but that is another long story.Suffice it to say that I swum through it.

          4. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            Were you a Teamster or was unionizing forbidden where you worked? My father was a Teamster driver, though he wasn’t an over the road driver, he did deliver all over the Northeast but he was home every night. The funny thing is, I had the distinct impression that he didn’t really embrace the unions even though he benefited from being a member. I know he hated his job, maybe that played into everything else.
            He’s been gone now for 25 years so I don’t know what is politics actually were, we never talked about it…I am sure it wasn’t like yours and mine though.

            I assume the latter part of your first paragraph is a reference to President Reagan, interestingly, the company my father drove for found a loophole as well during the late 80’s. They sold off the trucking portion
            of the business to a nonunion, independent trucking company in turn wiping out all the drivers pensions. Teamsters was powerless to stop it. My father died broke while leaving my mother in tremendous debt. Thank you Reagan!

          5. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            I was never a teamster.Virginia was always a “right to work”state. In fact the only operation that I knew of that was teamsters was UPS.When I took a turn as a welder at Newport News Shipyard in the mid seventies,I joined the PSA [Peninsula Shipbuilders Assos.] Too late, I learned that the union was owned and operated by Tenneco,the shipyard owners,and was used to undermine the workers who had complaints with personell.I has learned a specific welding technique at the shipyard welding school to be used on the LNG tankers they were building.I was told that if I did not learn to perform the technique perfectly that I wouldn’t have a job.
            As it turned out,the shipyard was behind in their delivery date about 11 months after I went aboard the tanker and was being fined for each day late.Well,they got in a hurry and wanted me to up my production by compromising the quality of my work.[the idea was that if there was work that needed to be repaired or replaced,they would hire more people to do it and get a bigger tax break because of it and offset the fines]. I refused and began to be hassled by management and so walked off the job and went to truck driving.That’s how I got enough money to buy my fishing boat and get all rigged up for crabbing and oystering.Most of the driving I did was for a small seafood operation at first.I was able to go back and forth depending on the fishing.Later on I drove for a chemical company and even later became a specialty hauler for everything from hazmat,and explosives to museum exhibits.
            Eventually it all went away by hook or by crook.I wager that we are about the same age.My Dad passed in ’90 at age 70.He was a lifelong straight Gop voter.A WWII vet,he could not see the fascism under his own nose.God rest him,he left my sisters and me each with $5K.

          6. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            I’m 44, I was 25 when my father passed away at the age of 54. I’m glad he isn’t still around to experience this b/s. His retirement would have been wiped out so there is no way he would be able to enjoy his golden years.

          7. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            I have a few years on you.I’m a few weeks away from being sixty two.

          8. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            A few years yes, but you have the dubious distinction of being caught in the middle of the storm with your age. It’s a critical time for all of us, but even more so for you as retirement looms close if you already if you aren’t retired already. I hope you’re at least healthy, I’d like to have you around for a long time.

          9. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            Thanks Fred,I am touched by your sentiment.I had to stop working by the end of ’06.I could barely walk for all the pain I had.I have degenerative disk disease,spinal arthritis,and a pinched sciatic nerve.I have been permanently disabled since that time and have been on disability since Spring of ’08.I’m not crippled and have much better pain free range of motion since I’ve been out of the trucks,though there are sometimes when I have been pain free for a good while and returned to old ways of moving around and more vigorous physical activity,that I have a pain that quickly reminds me that they don’t call me disabled for nothing.
            I became fully subsidized when I got my disability due to such reduced income,so you can imagine my ire when I encounter those who want to destroy the social contract.I do most everything I want to,but I had to learn over time that I need to be very deliberate in my movements or I can seize right up.So,I’m not able to do a sufficient amount of work at any one time to satisfy an employer but I’ve learned that slow and steady gets her done and the turtle won the race.
            On a different note, I’m having a discussion with Thomas Bonsell on a different Memo page about the intention of Article 5 in regard to seeking an amendment to C.U. and McCutcheon.We disagree,SURPRIZE!!! If you can bring up that page and read our comments,I would be interested in your interpretation.I will click off of here and retrieve the article name and then come back and provide it to you.

          10. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            That’s hell what you’re going through. Who knows, if my father was still alive today he could possibly find himself suffering from similar conditions. He drove the big rig for 20 years. that’s got take it’s toll on the body. Anyway, I’m signing off for the night, be well my friend.

          11. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            You as well,Fred.

          12. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            The article is titled- Senate To Take Up Long Shot Amendment To Regulate Campaign Finance.Hope you can find the conversation.

          13. Allan Richardson May 5, 2014

            Sounds like the holding company International Utilities was involved in that.

          14. FredAppell May 5, 2014

            Nah! Actually it was a trucking firm called Island Trucking. My Grandfather worked there as well but he retired in the late 70’s way before the trucking portion was sold. I worked there too for a couple of years during the time the drivers were being sold out but I worked inside the plant as a machinist. the whole shop was union and the money was great but the drivers, being teamsters, were screwed. Purely economics…

          15. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            My credit rating is strong too but without the money to be able to utilize it, it’s meaningless.

          16. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            I wouldn’t worry about that Fred.As I understand it,those who evaluate one’s credit worthiness appreciate it when someone who has a big line of credit is thrifty with it.As long as you us it now and then you should be in good shape.

          17. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            I bet they would love for me to use it…
            I have become more thrifty, no more needless purchases to concern myself with. The art of uncluttering my life is my primary goal. It isn’t easy to break the hard wiring impressed upon so many of us but it is prudent.

          18. Allan Richardson May 5, 2014

            It’s like the story of Joseph would have turned out if the Pharaoh had not listened to Joseph (because of courtiers advising him to let the “free market” run itself and not imposing “socialism” or “government interference” perhaps). Seven years of plenty, let the grain be sold out of the country, not stored, followed by seven years of famine, with no stored grain to feed the starving masses of people.

          19. Mark Forsyth May 5, 2014

            I suspect that due to the fact that they were in such a dry climate that they never heard about “saving for a rainy day”.

        2. charleo1 May 4, 2014

          I thought the same thing. Low wages are only profitable, if you have a market with the money to buy.
          So, what’s up with corporate skin flints refusing to pay
          decent wages here? It seems the thinking is, their new
          customers are going to be the new Middle Class in
          China, that promises to be twice the size in population
          of the entire population of the U.S. Did you hear, China is expected to replace the U.S. sometime later
          this year, as the world’s largest economy? The sadder
          fact is, there are so many Americans that are bowing
          and scraping to these corporations. With their hired
          lobbyists, and politicians, giving them everything they
          ask for. Believing I guess, there will come a day when
          they pay no taxes, and don’t have a single regulation,
          and the kids are working 60 hours a week along with
          the parents, just to survive, the good times for America will return. I think they are damn fools. But, I
          know they think the same about me. And would you
          believe, I hope they are right? For the kids sake, for
          the Country’s sake. Which, even with all it’s problems,
          is still my heart. Because, as I said earlier, we can
          still change things here.

          1. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            I feel the same way charleo. I am having a disagreement with another Memo reader as to whether or not a majority of states legislatures can make law in regard to a Constitutional Amendment if the Congress refuses to vote on same.It has rarely been done,but I contend that there is a provision for it if specific requirements are met.What say you?

          2. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            Apparently yes, if the requirements are met, states can indeed call for a Constitutional Amendment. I left you a reply on the other page. There’s a lot of info I left out but it should provide some ammo for your debate.

          3. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            Thanks Fred. I replied to you over there as well.My back has begun to ache from sitting too long at this’puter,so I’m gonna call it for one night and hope to get some solid resolution on this question before the end of the week.Hope the balance of the night and the coming week are positive for you.

      2. lottopol May 4, 2014

        “..The enormous shift in tax policy favoring the rich has been a world-wide phenomena going on for many years. After the Socialist party candidate François Hollande won the presidential election, France enacted tax laws that gave France the most progressive tax system among the 20 largest industrial nations. However, the world-wide the tax systems have become so much less progressive in the past decades, that if the tax code that France has today were applied to France in 1969, France would have had the most regressive tax system among the 20 countries in 1969.

        A major component of the shift of the tax burden from the
        rich onto the middle class involves the corporate income tax , whose incidence falls entirely on the owners of corporations. Corporate income taxes were 4% of
        GDP in 1969 and are now less than 1%. The reduction in corporate taxes has not necessarily been the result of political power on the part of corporations. Rather it was part of an international “bidding war” among countries to see who could induce corporations to move from one country to a jurisdiction to another with a lower corporate tax. Even if were politically feasible, the United States
        could not unilaterally reinstate the corporate income tax rates back to 1969 levels…”

        1. charleo1 May 4, 2014

          What you point out about the shift in tax policy, is true. As well in environmental policies, and human rights, and worker’s rights policies, have all seen an enormous shift favoring international corporations, who pit one country against the other, in all areas of possible reduction of production costs. Domestic
          corporations use the same leverage here, pitting
          each state against the other for the best deal. As you say, it’s a world wide phenomenon. And much
          like sanctions, it requires a global response. Which
          I realize is a tall order, but nonetheless, necessary.
          As you may know, it was a major topic of concern at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. Where they approached the problem as one of economic sustainability, and an unhealthy increase in levels of wealth inequality. Sighting increased civil unrest across the Middle East, and Countries within the EU. Struggling to maintain solvency, while paying
          for social programs in this, low wage, corporate created competition, for lower taxes, and a laissez faire, regulatory environment. Which by the way, contributed to the vulnerabilities of some of the hardest hit EU economies, that heavily invested in
          the exported collateralized debt instruments. Ones
          the same corporate moneymen are now demanding austerity, and cuts to the social programs. So, you’re right, it’s a huge challenge that must be dealt
          with, or the current corporate business model will
          eventually have the world’s economies, especially the ones with democratic governments, in a real
          unsustainable mess.

          1. lottopol May 5, 2014

            How could anyone not expect a tremendous increase in income and wealth inequality after you make the tax rates paid on income such as
            dividends, capital gains and corporate profits much less than the taxes on wages and eliminate entirely from any taxation 99.9% of all estates from the inheritance tax.

            “..Equally unhelpful in terms of addressing the income and wealth inequality which results in the overinvestment cycle that caused the
            depression are those who emphasize various non-tax factors. Issues such a globalization,
            single-parent households, marriage trends, outsourcing, free trade, unionization, minimum wage laws, problems with our education system and infrastructure, regulatory policies and financial innovation can increase the income and wealth inequality. However, these are extremely minor when compared to the shift of the tax burden from the rich to the middle class. It is the
            compounding year after year of the effect of the shift away from taxes on capital income such as dividends over time as the rich get proverbially richer which is the prime generator of inequality…”

      3. Allan Richardson May 5, 2014

        Ironically, the consumers ARE valuable to the “job creators” AS CONSUMERS, but not as workers, or as PEOPLE. Yet the only way anyone can fulfill the role as consumer is ALSO TO BE A WORKER (or a successful “job creator,” but there are not enough of them spending enough on consumer goods to keep THEIR OWN businesses healthy).

        Ever see an aquarium with no aerating pump? The lack of circulation causes oxygen to be depleted and waste products concentrated, which soon kills the fish and other creatures, unless the “manual aerating” procedure is used: very frequent cleaning and water changing. Much less frequent cleaning is needed with a working aerator pump.

        The money in an unregulated market economy shows the same lack of circulation in the end. It stagnates in the bank accounts of people at the top, for whom there is not enough stuff to buy to keep business stimulated. If there is no “aerator pump” in the form of taxes on the extremely wealthy (which does not make them “poor,” only a little less wealthy) and stimulus programs aimed at helping the poor to move up into the middle class, and the middle class to stay there, from which a minority could move up, the entire economy stagnates.

        So in 1929, 1987, and 2007 (and from different causes in 1979-78), each crisis required massive spending by the federal government to fix. Representatives of the interest of the very wealthy set policy goals that CREATED those collapses, in order to bring short term benefits to those very wealthy, ON THE BACKS OF WORKING PEOPLE.

        1. charleo1 May 5, 2014

          An excellent analogy. Probably the most accurate
          one, I’ve ever read. And, I love analogies. So there have been many. All pointing to the same inescapable thing, of course. If only the few have disposable income, things get very lean for everyone, including the rich. We know a lot about what’s happened. The rich have their access to the people that make the rules. And by a little, or a lot, over the years, they have skewed the damn thing so much in their favor, it no longer works for America. For one thing, it’s extreme. That’s why China has done so well with the model. In China, they can do extreme, then modify as necessary. Here, they are still wrestling with trying to install extreme, while other factions rightly attempt to stall it. Producing a dead in the water effect, where nothing gets done. The problem with the world, is it’s not waiting on us. And this is where it gets very dangerous. Americans need to get off the dime, as they say, and decide. If we want to create a 19th century recreation of the land barons, monopolies, and the railroads, that controlled Congress in 1800s, then we’re well on our way. I’d say, Americans need do nothing, at this point to become one big giant Walmart, with nuclear weapons.

          1. S.J. Jolly May 7, 2014

            One giant Wal-Mart, with nuclear weapons. And large, sophisticated security surveillance organizations. (One has to wonder if domestic control was the real reason for the Patriot Act and it’s kin.)

          2. charleo1 May 7, 2014

            Yes, the Patriot Act, very sophisticated technology.
            The drone program, every click of your mouse, tracked and logged. If your cell phone went with you,
            it tracked your every move today. Companies, and maybe your Govt. too, is very interested in who you are. Flattered? Maybe not so much? Lots of people are becoming very concerned about just where the ability to snoop ends, and their privacy begins.

      4. S.J. Jolly May 7, 2014

        Do the politicians make up the fables, or do they get fed fables by political think tanks?

        1. charleo1 May 7, 2014

          The message of both Parties are tightly controlled
          today. Think tanks, market tested phrases, and buzz
          words, are all about, “the brand.” Buy GOP, and you
          get a lot of anti-tax, anti-govt. rhetoric. You also get
          a lot of anti-immigrant, anti-welfare, anti-abortion,
          pro military, and top down economic policy. Buy
          Democratic, and you get a more populous oriented,
          Middle Class focused, economic policy. With, I think
          a more inclusive, “big tent,” approach, focused on more liberal social policies. Favoring a stricter Govt.
          regulatory regimin on environmental, and consumer
          protection policies, with an eye toward limiting gun
          violence with stricter registration policies for fire arms. Personally, I agree overall much more often with Democrats.

    2. progressiveandproud May 4, 2014

      Excellent post.

    3. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

      ie: results in EMPTY factories,houses,and stores.

  4. ivory69690@yahoo.com May 4, 2014

    the true story of what the future of America looks like as the powerful and wealthy continue to rise and the percentage of working poor steadily increases//// this will happen but can be slowed gown some if the people join together and vote for people and put them in office that want to do as thy should be doing . and that is to be helping the people all the people and not just the 1&2 % of the greedy bastard’s rich . its them that want to take way the American dream and keep it for them self

  5. charles king May 4, 2014

    I was a kid doing the days of the book ” Grapes of Wrath” people had farms and small plots of land where they planted their crops. My grandfather was a hobo for many years and he made to evansville Ill.,then on to Portage, Penna. for a few days then to Johnstown, Penna. where he got a job on The conamaugh Blacklick Railway then he send for his oldest son who was my father this was in (1907) then they send for all of their relatives and friends who were tenant farmers in Americus Georgia. I wrote a book called “Thank You Jesus For Johnstown,Pennsylvania” I got a good education, John L. Lewis brought the Union to Pennsylvania and the State propfit. Now the State is rewriting The Wrath all over again because the Plutotracts, and Greedy Capitalistic Pigs, Do-nothingiors Republicans and Democracts etc. who are privatizing the Peoples Assets and using their tax dollars to manages the Peoples assets. People you have to do some critical thinking and use your VOTE to put MONIES out of business. The Vote is still Supreme and listen to your President because he knows that Critical Thinking works. How? do you know he knows because the People re-elected him. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love You All. Mr. C. E. KING

  6. paulyz May 4, 2014

    Our system of government of individual freedom created the most dynamic economy the world had ever known, enabling persons of little skills to make good money to enjoy the American Dream; buy a home, a new car, send kids to college, take nice vacations, save for retirement, etc. The U.S. had a great and thriving Middle-Class for decades.

    So why is that wrong now? We have the same system, but high individual & corporate taxes, excessive regulations, the global economy, have all hurt the profits of many companies. Sure, the few CEO’s of some companies make a lot of money, but most businesses exist on a small profit margin.

    We need a healthy economy so all can enjoy a better life. Indeed, what does even N.Y. do when their economy is devastated? They offer businesses tax breaks for 10 years to encourage them to relocate there for employment for their citizens….

    1. progressiveandproud May 4, 2014

      Are you comatose or what?

      We don’t live in the same country we lived in even 30 years ago. High taxes on the middle class and low on the rich, corporations that pay some of the lowest corp. rates in the world, regulations gutted (factory explosions, pollution spills into our rivers and lakes, etc.), tax policies that reward companies for moving overseas, and “churches” that have turned their backs on Christianity to promote the corporate gospel.

      This is the world we live in now and unless Americans wake up and stop fighting each other, this is world we will die in.

      1. charleo1 May 4, 2014

        You are absolutely correct. What were GE profits a couple of
        years ago, 100/150 billion? And they not only didn’t pay taxes on the profits, they got extra money from the Federal Govt. The Fortune 500, the largest corporations in America, had combined capital accumulation of 2 trillion dollars in 201when their political minions in Washington were threatening to default on the government’s debts. All to drive home the false preception the Country was broke. And, not only was the Country broke, they claimed. But it’s broke, because the Federal Govt. had taxed, and regulated our corporations into insolvency, trying to pay for a Socialist scheme to make the Middle Class dependent on Govt. What our terribly misled, Conservative friend’s comments tell us. is they, the corporate aristocracy, feel as if it’s not enough. That the current economic situation is not yet slanted enough in their favor. That average workers could be forced to accept less, in fact, much less. That there are yet profits to be pocketed, that taxes may yet be lowered further, even eliminated. And more deregulations granted, as long as there are people willing to ignore the obvious, and cling to the improbable, with all signs pointing the opposite direction.

      2. rkief May 4, 2014

        You’re absolutely right! Compared to 30 years ago – before Reagan’s “Trickle down” philosophy took hold, and all the public money avalanched up – BigBiz is grabbing more from the public trough, in the forms of corporate advantages, subsidies, bailouts (if being allowed to HQ in a lower-tax country, out sourcing, and hiring cheaper immigrants isn’t a bailout, then what is?) but at the same time, though they spin it differently, they are now paying much lower taxes than ever before.

        We would all like to do better financially, but most of us hadn’t the wherewithal to bribe (contribute to) politicians toward that end. BigBiz does, and they have forever been pressuring our public servants to erode the laws that give citizens (as workers and consumers an even break. Contrary to what we would like to believe, money is, and has always been speech.

        1. charleo1 May 4, 2014

          Sure, money can be speech. A fellow can tell his girl
          he loves her, by buying her a nice box of candy, or a
          big bouquet of roses. But, never has big business been able to so thoroughly, “sweet talk,” politicians
          right out of their responsibilities to the people of our
          Country, as they can now. At a certain point doesn’t
          it cease to be just sweet talk, and become just a transaction for services rendered?

          1. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            Charleo1, you nailed the heart of the problem. The wealthy have decided that America isn’t our country anymore, it’s theirs. They’ve managed to change the language and concepts to benefit their own unscrupulous desires for absolute control. The rest of us are only taking up space in their country and by labeling us as lazy, moochers or whatever other mischaracterizations they can apply to us, it has given them justification to exploit us as some kind of commodity. We’ve been dehumanized for their sick pleasure to serve them. They are psychopaths who ignore ” the rights of free people”. And they have the gall to talk about entitlements?

          2. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            Don’t forget that all that sweet talkin’ is all the more easier when that guy in high government office is a former and sometimes current corporate head.You and Fred might both be astounded to learn how many former Monsanto corporate officers are in our government,and that is just one example.
            I would say that the fox is in the hen house except that the fucking fox has become the hen house.

          3. charleo1 May 4, 2014

            Yes. Or, Goldman Sachs.

          4. FredAppell May 4, 2014

            It isn’t just them, many industry regulators are tasked with regulating the very industries they worked for…Some of them were the highest earners in those companies. Their self interests should be called into question. That’s like putting a mass murderer in charge of a prison.

          5. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

            My point exactly Fred.There should be no question why we have so much trouble getting legislation passed that is in the public interest.

  7. Jeff Bottaro May 4, 2014

    HOW MUCH MISERY does it take for AMERICANS to see the CHUMPS they have been, buying into the creed that is NOW THEIR UNDOING?

    1. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

      Don’t forget the propaganda factor.

      1. Jeff Bottaro May 4, 2014

        That is a serious challenge in a set of circumstances where the primary motive is to INFLUENCE rather than INFORM. I have no wisdom to offer here other than the grandness of the task of filtering out propaganda from anything more ambiguous than a tornado siren.

        1. Mark Forsyth May 4, 2014

          That is a task for anyone with a conscience.Obviously a bigger task for some than for others.

        2. FredAppell May 4, 2014

          I think your comment showed plenty of wisdom.

  8. Kellie Nicholson May 4, 2014

    Well-said, Peter Van Buren.

  9. Kurt CPI May 4, 2014

    Although the excerpt is a microcosmic view of how unskilled labor jobs have deteriorated, it ignores the tagline that got me here, which is “How deindustrialization led to todays broken economy”. It’s not ONLY loss of industry that has created this mess, but it’s a huge part. Let’s examine what has happened. The United States is riddled with debt. More than the combined debt of all those failing EU economies. The only reason we’re not failing along with them is that the US dollar is the international medium of exchange – in other words, we’re the only country that import (make international purchases) without having to first convert our dollars into someone else’s. Effectively, we can just “print” what we need to pay interest on our debt; import more than we export, etc. In short, we have an unlimited money supply. Sounds great, right? The problem is that the US dollar is quickly losing credibility as a stable currency. If the world (many economists say “when” rather than “if”) decides that the dollar is mired in too much debt, and choose to use some other currency, we’re in a world of hurt. We’ve sent our manufacturing offshore – the world, once dependent on US industry, no longer needs us for products. We’ve devalued our currency so that we can’t possibly exchange it for enough to even begin to cover the interest on our debt. And since we no longer produce any exportable product, we have no source of international income (nothing to sell to raise capital). “Deindustrialization” is the major source of our woes, and our government-backed corporations have already milked the country for as much as they could take, cut their losses, and moved on. It’s you and I that will be left holding the bag – that is, the worthless bag of US money!

  10. S.J. Jolly May 7, 2014

    This country is heading into becoming a giant banana republic, where-in a few ultra rich families own and control everything. Unless we get another Progressive rebellion, to take back political power for the 99%.


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