“Stop beating the dead horse,” I was chastised when I kept paying attention to the Occupy movement beyond that sliver of attention deemed newsworthy. The movement evolved, still continues in various projects. I’ve never stopped paying attention. And for good, or really bad, reasons: the inequalities it helped reveal remain.
Chris Hedges has also continued paying attention, staying active. I encourage you to go read the whole thing, what Hedges told the “People’s Recovery Summit” in Brooklyn last Saturday. Excerpts from Breaking the Chains of Debt Peonage: (emphasis added)
The corporate state has made it clear there will be no more Occupy encampments. The corporate state is seeking through the persistent harassment of activists and the passage of draconian laws such as Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act—and we will be in court next Wednesday to fight the Obama administration’s appeal of the Southern District Court of New York’s ruling declaring Section 1021 unconstitutional—to shut down all legitimate dissent. The corporate state is counting, most importantly, on its system of debt peonage to keep citizens—especially the 30 million people who make up the working poor—from joining our revolt.
What would happen if 30 million or so people revolted? What is the corporate state willing to do to prevent that from happening?
Workers who are unable to meet their debts, who are victimized by constantly rising interest rates … are far more likely to remain submissive and compliant. Debt peonage is and always has been a form of political control. …
… And today it is used by banks and corporate financiers to enslave not only individuals but also cities, municipalities, states and the federal government. …
… (T)he most effective weapon we have to liberate ourselves as well as the 30 million Americans who make up the working poor is a sustained movement to raise the minimum wage nationally to at least $11 an hour. …
… (T)he federal minimum wage remains stuck at $7.25 an hour. It is the lowest of the major industrial countries. Meanwhile, Mike Duke, the CEO of Walmart, makes $11,000 an hour. And he is not alone.
Hedges talks about the “sacrifice of the working poor,” the need to “empower the 30 million low-wage workers—two-thirds of which are employed by large corporations such as Walmart and McDonald’s—to fight back.”
To some, that will probably sound as silly as paying attention to Occupy, and the realities it highlighted. To some, it might sound a bit strange. After all, we’re accustomed to hearing about the “middle class” as the key concern. To some, empowering the “working poor” might sound scary. Hedges and Joe Sacco, however, spent the last two years
… in the poorest pockets of the United States, our nation’s sacrifice zones, for our book ‘Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.’ …
And what has been done to those in these sacrifice zones, those places corporations devastated first, is now being done to all of us.
Here’s a key point:
There are no impediments within the electoral process or the formal structures of power to prevent predatory capitalism. …
The human cost … is justified by the need to make greater and greater profit. … The phrase ‘the consent of the governed’ has become a cruel joke. … The disconnect between illusion and reality makes us one of the most self-deluded populations on the planet. …
Hedges provides lots of data and examples to back-up and illustrate his points. For example, there’s this:
The former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, testifying before Congress, was quite open about the role of debt peonage in keeping workers passive. Greenspan pointed out that since 1980 labor productivity has increased by about 83 percent. Yet real wages have stagnated. Greenspan said this was because workers were too burdened with mortgage debts, college loans, auto payments and credit-card debt to risk losing a job.
What to do? Well, in addition to getting enough people to pay attention for longer than the tiny period allowed by the corporate state and a media chasing corporate state approval, and advertising dollars, what to do?
The only way to break this fear and passivity is to organize workers to break the cycle of mounting debt. And the first step to achieving independence from debt—the primary form of political control by the corporate state—is to raise the minimum wage.
For another take on the same general, and global, situation, there’s the State of Power 2013 report, released by the Transnational Institute. The 1% / 99% realities really didn’t disappear with the lack of media coverage.
Via Roar Magazine:
Corporate power: exposing the global 1%
Did you know that less than 1% of the world’s transnational corporations, mostly banks, control the share of 40% of global businesses? Did you know that 0.001% of the world’s population … controls assets worth $14.6 trillion – or over 20% of global annual GDP?
In its State of Power 2013 report, the Transnational Institute breaks down the concentration of wealth and power of the world’s plutocracy into a series of powerful infographics.
You can see the infographics at the “State of Power” link above.
‘Debt peonage’ is one major factor in the power of the “global 1%.” Good for Hedges and everyone else who refuse to stop “beating that dead horse.” The Two Party Front for the Oligarchy is very much alive, and doing very much better than everyone else.
(State of Power 2013 Brandeis Quote via Transnational Institute)