Are Americans on the Road to Serfdom?

inoculatedinvestor's picture

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Prophet of Wise's picture

Are Americans on the Road to Serfdom?

No we're all livin' in a van down by the river!


CD's picture

As I'm sure you know, this gets to be a little less funny when it gets real (there are better documentaries out there, but the best I could find immediately):

There is a critical mass for these things -- but I fear that true mass movement for change (in a physical way) requires conditions to worsen in an absolute, not just relative fashion. And if we have to wait until things get to the level of, say 1917 Russia (or worse, the gov't has a much, much larger buffer to placate avg. Joes and Janes with) for people to recognize the need for fundamental change... Ech, and I used to be an optimist. I am starting to inwardly agree with others that something 'real', something physical (or at least non-virtual) must be done by those of us here at ZH and of critical minds in general. Yet I question my willingness and courage to stand up to, say, a line of masked policemen in riot gear. Or interrogation and indefinite detention (while my family wonders where I am). Perhaps if they close the borders, it will help put steel my resolve. Hey, at least I closed my BofA account today... We are serfs as it currently stands, the question is, is there anyplace on the planet where this is not (or at least less) so?

i.knoknot's picture

hot potato.

It comes down to our voluntary (albeit practical) agreement in the represented "stored value" of a (your currency here) dollar. What would an alien do if you gave it $100 bill? What about your buddy on a deserted island...? What about a policeman getting paid to 'enforce the (tax) laws'?

Should the currency collapse, obviously nobody would have the continued power to use their "store of value" to "buy you lunch" for "trimming their trees". Money sure is convenient.

But remember, 'they' have *centuries* of such 'agreed upon' wealth stored up (or printed on demand) in various forms, ready to pay to have us do their bidding, *all* because we (and our armies/local police) continue to accept the premise of their wealth. Most likely because it is also the form of our wealth... right?

It's no accident or ineptitude that's causing our political administrations to actively and effectively socialize the world by encouraging the debasement of the world's central ($) currency. The irritating social policy changes going on right now (at least in the US) are *nothing* compared to the current neutering of those with enough financial power (the new rich) to threaten those at the helm (the old rich). It's the most radical and violent shakeout in history. The semi-elite have gotten too close to power and are being robbed more effectively than the homeless (10% of nothing is...?). If trillions become worth pennies (Zimbabwe), we're all equal again. Except for those that are more equal... So long as the armies take 'their' currency, so must the rest of us, right?

Just *try* to keep your home if you don't pay your property taxes. Unless you walk, their guns will *eventually* come out in virtually any scenario.  *Your* home - what a joke. Even if you don't use their roads, water, phones, or electricity, you still have to pay/play their game. It works until it doesn't.

wherever possible: a good safe. barter. hard goods. transparent un-leveraged loans with trustworth peers - and real *accountability* (mafia style).

Meanwhile we're relegated to continue to empower their abstract digital $$$ and the very real armies that control us. And so long as those dollars control the armies/police, it matters very little what the average sheeple thinks or wants.

Every time you take a dollar from anybody, they win (you sucker). Every time you dump one for something real, you win.

hot potato.

Hammer59's picture

....that enables them to buy $50MM paintings while we dance over our "cash-4-clunkers" deal---LOL!   Excellent comments-all too true!  And yes, good people dont rebel against the wealthy/elites. Bad ones do. When this system of things collapses, it may get really ugly for them.

Hammer59's picture

I dont disagree that Government at all levels is primarily responsible for our economic woes. But the citizens are to blame as well. How many of you actually contact your reps? Do you even attempt to buy American products? Does your ego determine your amount of debt? Are you physically fit? Healthy? Do you vote? Work hard? Any "family man" who claims that the meager sum paid to recipients collecting unemployment insurance nearly matched his income is too impoverished to procreate, and too lazy to survive. You cant blame government for their existence. The 'hive' mindset was that the party would never end. The American of today bears no resemblence to the Americans of the past. They had character, honor, thrift. For a civilization to be destroyed from without, it must first have been destroyed from within.

Pat Shuff's picture

`At any rate I'll never go there again!' said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. `It's the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!'

Resistance is feudal.

Anonymous's picture

James Madison expressed similar concerns. War, he said, was "the true nurse of executive aggrandizement."

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps to those on this board this does not apply - but many, many Americans for the past century or so have gladly accepted the government as nanny in lieu of personal responsibility.

Witness the shrill cries from both those on the left and right that the government "Hasn't done enough" to "create jobs." I've found myself explaining again and again, even to intelligent right-leaning peers that it's not the governments' job to create jobs - government is if anything a hindrance to job creation and that by way of limited regulation, tax policies and effective education (the one thing government SHOULD do right, but mostly fails in the U.S.) jobs are created, not the government lever.

First, this is an anecdote but I know someone. Good fellow. Family man. He's been out of work for a long, long time. I feel horrible for him. I feel less horrible because when he first lost his job before a lot of the meltdown happened his response was, "Yeah, I'm not worried. Plus, I almost make as much on unemployment so what's the hurry?"

His viewpoint is not in the minority in the U.S. He likes having a nanny. He expects to have a nanny. It's part of being American for him.

tomdub_1024's picture

"Yeah, I'm not worried. Plus, I almost make as much on unemployment so what's the hurry?"

Your anecdote is unfortunately too common...the spirit that made America what it was has been bred and ednacated out of most US citizens.

"His viewpoint is not in the minority in the U.S. He likes having a nanny. He expects to have a nanny. It's part of being American for him."

This is hitting me the wrong way, I am sliding from acceptance of reality and not giving a sh*t anymore back towards depression/anger...Is it beer:30 yet?

maybe I should have my kids watch the old show Sanford and Son and say---"there ya go, thats what to expect for your life...sorry 'bout that...the people who did it to you? You will be paying for their golf course McMansion retirement lifestyle..."

*sigh* Is it beer:30 yet?



Anonymous's picture

“‘Emergencies,’” Hayek wrote, “have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have eroded.” <<<<<<

The sons of bitches give us 911, then they say we need homeland security and etc. We fight for the rights of others, so we are told, and yet we lose our own. God I hate this country now. I hate our government. I hate those who are stealing from me and my grandchildren. I hate them for taking my freedoms. I will hate them for all of my life now.

Anonymous's picture

The current American predatory capitalist system = serfdom.

Anonymous's picture

Goldman OWNS government.

First, get goldman out of the government. Then maybe government would start to get smaller. AND free moving markets and CAPITALISM would RETURN TO THE U.S.

I am sick of these government-loving Goldman guys changing rules in their favor, wiping out their competitors, printing their own trading money, using government announcements to prop their positions, AND last but not least, GETTING TAXPAYER MONEY TO COVER


With AIG.

If Goldman guys are so smart (as defenders like to claim) well then why did they make a STUPID ASS deal with AIG?

And if they are just good capitalists, why don't they suffer like a REAL TRADER OUT HERE (like me) and try to make it on their own WITHOUT WELFARE HANDOUTS?

Anonymous's picture

Government Sachs must be shut down

Anonymous's picture

step 1: break up Goldman into several smaller firms.
step 2: remove ALL goldman execs and former execs and affiliates from government positions.

There needs to be a PERMANENT firewall to get these Goldman folks away from their LOVE AND LUST for government power.

Try competing in a free market Goldman. Take steps 1 and 2 and we can get a free market back and then see how Goldman does then.

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Surely a element of strategic planning is necessary in this new world of changing energy dynamics.Most of us agree that oil is or has reached its peak and in such a scenario decentralised commerce and other activities become less diffuse and more concentrated(e.x.-19th century industry). I would contend that nuclear fission is the only substantial solution to a coming energy diet(famine). Critics of nuclear power state that the capital costs are too great but I would think that is a advantage since capital would be static for the lifetime of the power plant and less open to speculation. As readers here understand it was no coincidence that the last nuke plant in America was built in 71, the year the speculators had a free hand to run down the capital of nations,companys and indivduals. indeed the new accounting did not really recognize true capital.

readers should take note that the only western state to put up a fight against monetarist policeys was France, a country which invested heavily in the above.However I would agree that It has now been taken over by the Priesthood of Brussels and has suffered accordingly , but still it is in a far better postion then the U.K. which ran down its vast wealth in the North Sea without reinvesting at least some of this into its future energy infrastructure. To sum up France has remained a relatively free country up to now(brief interlude in 68) for a country with a high degree of central planning


Anonymous's picture

short answer: yep.

There are some huge misconceptions about synthetic debt and derivatives growth. These were not "mistakes," they were the ONLY way to grow the credit money animal once the REAL eocnomy peaked.

What looks like insane risktaking was only a byproduct of creatively trying to figure out how to feed the beast.

RagnarDanneskjold's picture

A democracy will never be able to recognize failed policies that take generations to collapse. Medicare and Social Security are policies that should have never been implemented, certainly as designed, but also at all due to the way they change the relationship between the citizen and the government. Don't try explaining it to people, however, if you want to keep your friends. There's a reason why Tytler's cycle goes from liberty to bondage and then to liberty. Only when the people are in chains will they take the time to find the origins.

Anonymous's picture

Right, without Medicare and Social Security the masses wouldn't have a piece of the pie they bought through taxes they paid and the ruling class would have that money too. Dont be an idiot.

RagnarDanneskjold's picture

The government takes your pie, eats some, and then sends you back what's left. I'm pretty sure that's how slavery works.

bugs_'s picture

Somewhere in the last two years the pavement
gave way to a dirt road.  People are confused
now because they remember the ride being much
smoother.  Its a bit bumpy now.

Anonymous's picture

That George Carlin video puts it about as clear as you're ever going to get it. Every sentence in it is right on. Go back watch it and believe every word. Its never been about politics or politicians, its about what they the ruling class get the politicians to think through the lobbyists and what legislation they get passed that bilks the public but lets them buy $50 million paintings while the rest of us dance over the cash for clunkers bargains we got. The view is good from the castle walls and you aren't in it! But its OK for them to screw up the world and go to church on sunday because its the soma of the masses. Good people don't rebel against the ruling class. They throw tantrums on blogs and go about their way.
Im not so sure that these blogs arent more of a corral for like thinkers than an outlet."OK let off some steam there folks and on your way" nothing changing.

hidingfromhelis's picture

Road to serfdom implies traveling toward a destination.  I feel treadmill or hamster wheel is more applicable.

Anonymous's picture

'Government' is a tool, not an entity. It's not the 'government' taking everything, but an oligarchy of wealthy elites, using government to take everything.

It's foolish and naive to think that without 'big government' this wouldn't still happen.

SWRichmond's picture

They'd want to do it, but their actions wouldn't be backed by men with guns and the legal monopoly on the use of force.  That is the difference.

Cheeky Bastard's picture

Are Americans on the Road to Serfdom?

is that a rhetorical question?

Osprey's picture

Leo, thanks for posting the Carlin video.  Reminds of an essay, The Real Matrix by Steven Yates:

Welcome to the Machine...

Zippyin Annapolis's picture

Andre Malraux, "Man's Fate". And then you die.

SWRichmond's picture

The recent crisis came about primarily because investors partook of novel, complex and dangerous things, in greater amounts than ever before. They took on too much leverage and committed too much capital to illiquid investments. Why did they do these things? It all happened because investors believed too much, worried too little, and thus took too much risk. In short, they believed they were living in a low-risk world…

I'm sorry, but this is just grade-school blather.  An entire generation of 30- and 40-something "investors" believed the Fed had their backs.  The novel, complex and dangerous things were credit and interest rate derivatives, and they were used to enhance leverage by enabling the assignment of falsely strong ratings to debt instruments and fiat currencies.  This was condoned by banksters, regulators and Congress in order to pay for the continuation of the welfare/warfare state for another decade.  That is over with now, and unless some new, even higher-leverage scheme is found, the collapse is upon us.  The collapse will play out as a currency crisis leading to a general repudiation of paper assets.

Doc's picture

A glimpse at the "modern American's" life:

So I work my butt off, save my money, get a decent job, now I have the "privilege" of paying 39% of my income to the federal government. But the federal government is very good to me, it "allows" me to keep 61% of my income. God Bless them. I mean after all they do permit me to keep some of the money I work hard for, because after all we do know that if they need it they can tax me as much as they want.

If I live in NY, CA, NJ, MA I also have to pay an additional 10% state income tax, but a 49% to 51% split is still fair right? I mean, my country is so free that it lets me be a majority share holder of my own income! God Bless my freedom.

So now I buy a house with that 51% of my money, but god-forbid I just live in the house I bought with my own money. Since I have the "privilege" of living in a "free" state, I have to pay the state rent, in the form of property taxes. So there goes 2% of my property's value a year just to have a place of my own to call "home".

Anytime I decide to go out and buy something, I have to pay "protection" money to the state, circa 8%, but commerce needs to be protected right?

Finally, after working hard for 45 years of my life, and I croak, anything I've had the "privilege" of earning is taxed at 45% for my kids. Ok you say, I should have given it to my mistress, but any gift over $13,000 to my mistress (or the disabled kid down the street), gets taxed 50%...

Whoever said Freedom Wasn't Free certainly had the right idea.

Anyone in the world would say that the old-system of sharecropping after the Civil War was immoral. What is the difference between that and what we have now? It's just sharecropping in a "service" economy...

The road to serfdom is where we are at, not where we are going. In addition to all the income the government expropriates from any citizen, it also has the right to hold us indefinitely, torture us, search our houses without a warrant, audit us without any evidence, take away any of our constitutional rights at will, rewrite property laws, steal from us through inflation etc. etc. etc.

Brave new world here we come!

Apocalypse Now's picture

Sorry to break it to you, but the COGD this year was August 12th - you have to add in state income taxes, medicare, social security, sales taxes, fees, and registration.  After August 12th you can keep it all.

Happy Friday!

Anonymous's picture

I would not mind all that if there was a quid pro quo. Sadly, I cannot think of much that I get in exchange. I am rather pissed when my hard earned wealth is re-distributed to folks that already have plenty. And please, do not tell me that with all the money we spend on taxes, we cannot figure out how to get free healthcare to every American. Also, it is not the serfdom that scares me that much. It is the apathetic, delusional, inane serfdom that is prevalent around these parts of the world. People are too complacent to see farther than their own nose. As long as they have McDonalds, PS3, a pick up truck and a warm bed, they seem to be content with whatever iron dildo the government sticks up their butts.

Doc's picture

"And please, do not tell me that with all the money we spend on taxes, we cannot figure out how to get free healthcare to every American".

No offense... but I'll "please" tell you it isn't FREE. This is part of the delusional social conditioning you're discussing. If someone is paying for it, it isn't free. Period. Now you are correct about whether it is to society's benefit to tax a certain amount in order to receive said benefit, being healthcare. That is a subjective matter for each voter to make for himself.

However, time and time again government has proven that it cannot run any program in the long-term. Anything it has been involved in has gone to shit. Ever since it got involved in education standards have been dropping, yet the Department of Education keeps getting more funding. Ever since the Department of Energy was created in order to wean us off of foreign oil, we've been importing more. Ever since we started the War on Drugs, our society has been consuming more of them. Ever since we started expanding our military spending we've been going to war more often... the list goes on and on and on...


Anonymous's picture

it could be free in that I do not have to pay more for it than what I am already paying in taxes. In other words, proper budgeting and setting up proper priorities makes a difference. After all, that's one of the functions of government and as everything else, they could either do a good job or a lousy job. Good day to you..

Doc's picture

 - 8 dictionary results


8. provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment: free parking; a free sample.


It cannot be "free" in any sense of the word. Using the word "free" to discuss public healthcare is an oxymoron and a bad use of the English language.

Secondly, name one government program that has been properly budgeted?

Anonymous's picture

"...everybody's gone serfin', serfin' USA.."

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Umm, they've been serfs for decades. "It's a big club and you and I ain't in it":



Anonymous's picture

Can't get enough of Carlin. The guy never gave up his principles. It's not comedy at all - it's the truth.

HayeksConscience's picture

Welcome to Serfdom - Worker Drones. 

No system works which is run by totalitarian criminals - communist or capitalistic.  

Forget the labels and look at the behavior.  Then label the behavior for what it is. 

We are serfs is a criminal oligarchy.  Serfs Unite. 

Anonymous's picture

I wouldnt mind a few American serfs to come and do some hard labour on my propety, i will feed you of course. yeehaa, freemarket capitalism rules!

snorkeler's picture

Where are you located A129525? I would be happy to do some work on for you.

lukahnli's picture

Freemarket Capitalism?  Never seen that before.....

Gordon_Gekko's picture

"Are Americans on the Road to Serfdom?"

HAHAHAAAAHAHAHAHAHHHAAAAHAHAHA!!! They already ARE serfs. Just take a look around. Where have you been?

ghostfaceinvestah's picture

Yeah, no kidding.  It will only get worse, though, you can be sure of that.

Anonymous's picture

As regards the first of these p[ieces, honestly, what a crock. The source of our current woes lies in those rosy 1990's and in the crony capitalism instituted by Reagan and Thatcher and institutionalised by Clinton a decade later. Or was crony capitalism invented by the left???

And Britain's problem was never in heading "far to the left", which it did in 1945 for about 18 months. It was about decline of empire and hocking themselves to America to pay for two wars. Hardly an archetype for demonstrating the Austrian school of economic thinking (though it may be a precursor for what, in a more limited fashion, is awaiting the US).

The political thesis is subtle and attractive, the extrapolation to economic welfare is tentative. It's nothing to do with left and right, certainly as those terms are defined in America. It's about efficiency of resource management, on which the economic jury can be said to be well and truly still out.

Anonymous's picture

if Britain had gone any further left after WW2 they would have become communist. Now im not denying your version of events, however i have been led to believe that Britains keynesian economic socialism, big government, and welfare created excessive inflation that led to the crisis in capitalism in the 70's.

Enter Thatcher, Reagan, and Von Hayek Neo Liberalism in the 80s and there was an about face to the far, far right, almost corporate Fascism.

And where are we now? in some kind of socialist fascism where the tax payers bail out corporations cos the government either;
1) does not seem to want to take control
2) knows that public ownership and central planning is a thing of the past
3) or is simply too weak to take control and central plan the economy.

one thing is certain, things will only get worse from here until we eventually have blown Corporate Fascism. There can be no other way.

godammit whats with these ridiculously hard math questions? next you will be putting up trigonometry!