Guest Post: Grapes Of Wrath - 2011

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Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform

Grapes Of Wrath - 2011

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval,
the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and
to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is
taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are
hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little
screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to
strengthen and knit the repressed.” –
John SteinbeckGrapes of Wrath


John Steinbeck wrote his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath at
the age of 37 in 1939, at the tail end of the Great Depression.
Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize for literature. John
Ford then made a classic film adaption in 1941, starring Henry Fonda. It
is considered one of the top 25 films in American history. The book was
also one of the most banned in US history. Steinbeck was ridiculed as a
communist and anti-capitalist by showing support for the working
poor. Some things never change, as the moneyed interests that control
the media message have attempted to deflect the blame for our current
Depression away from their fraudulent deeds. The novel stands as a
chronicle of the Great Depression and as a commentary on the economic
and social system that gave rise to it. Steinbeck’s opus to the working
poor reverberates across the decades. He wrote the novel in the midst of
the last Fourth Turning Crisis.
His themes of man’s inhumanity to man, the dignity and rage of the
working class, and the selfishness and greed of the moneyed class ring
true today.

Steinbeck became the champion of the working class. When he decided
to write a novel about the plight of migrant farm workers, he took his
task very seriously. To prepare, he lived with an Oklahoma farm family
and made the journey with them to California. Seventy years later the
plight of the working class is the same. If Steinbeck were alive today
he would live with a Michigan auto manufacturing family making a journey
to fantasyland of green energy, where automobiles ran on corn and
sunshine. The working class bore the brunt of the Great Depression in
the 1930s and they are bearing the burden during our current Greater
Depression. Steinbeck knew who the culprits were seventy years ago. We
know who the culprits are today. They are one in the same. The moneyed
banking interests caused the Great Depression and they created the
disastrous collapse that has thus far destroyed 7 million middle class
jobs. Steinbeck understood that the poor working class of this country
had more dignity and compassion for their fellow man than any Wall
Street banker out for enrichment at the expense of the working class.

Okies and the Land of Milk & Honey

“How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own
cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t
scare him–he has known a fear beyond every other.” -
John Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath


The America of 1930 was different in many aspects from the America of
2011. The population of the U.S. was 123 million, living in 26 million
households, or 4.7 people per household. Today the population of the
U.S. is 310 million, living in 118 million households, or 2.6 people per
household. The living and working structure of the country was
dramatically different in 1930. The percentage of the population that
lived in rural areas exceeded 40%, down from 60% in 1900, as the country
rapidly industrialized. One quarter of the population still worked on
farms. Today, less than 20% of Americans live in rural areas, while less
than 2% live on farms. In 1935, there were 6.8 million farms in the
U.S. Today there are 2.1 million farms. The family farm has been slowly
but surely displaced by corporate mega-farms since the 1920s, with
46,000 farms now accounting for 50% of all farm production today.

figure 1 - both the U.S. farm population and rural population have dwindled as a share of the Nation's overall population

The sad plight of the American working farmer did not begin with the
Stock Market Crash of 1929. The seeds of destruction were planted prior
to and during World War I. Automation through technology allowed for
more cultivation of land. Agricultural prices rose due to strong
worldwide demand, leading farmers to dramatically increase cultivation.
With food commodity prices soaring, farmers fell into the classic trap
that McMansion buyers fell into from 2000 through 2006. Farmers took on
huge amounts of debt to acquire more land and farming equipment as local
banks were willing to feed their illusions with loans. It was a can’t
miss proposition. Jim Grant in his book Money of the Mind: Borrowing and Lending from the Civil War to Michael Milken described the end result:

Like bull markets in stocks, the bull
market in farmland engendered the belief that prices would rise
forever. “Speculators who had no interest whatever in farming bought
land for the 6 percent or 8 percent annual rise that seemed a certainty
throughout the early years of the century…” The rise in farm prices had
only begun.
The price of wheat was 62 cents a bushel in 1900.
It was 99 cents in 1909, $1.43 in 1916, and $2.19 at the peak in 1919.
To put $2.19 in perspective, it was not a price seen again until 1947.

The collapse of prices in the early
1920s would have been devastating enough, but the damage was compounded
by debt. By the summer of 1921, crop prices were down by no less than 85
percent from the postwar peak. Nebraskans, finding that corn had become
cheaper than coal, burned it. As it does in every market, the fall in
prices revealed the weaknesses in the structure of credit that had
financed the rise.

Between 1919 and 1921, the number of banks that failed totaled 724,
with only one of the largest, National City Bank, being bailed out by
Washington DC. The heartland, where more than 40% of the population
lived, did not participate in the Roaring Twenties. Wall Street and the
urbanized Northeast experienced the rapid wealth accumulation during the
1920s. The working poor of the farm belt struggled to subsist. Land
under cultivation continued to rise even after the bust of the early
1920s, tripling between 1925 and 1930. The land was over farmed and not
properly cared for, depriving the soil of organic nutrients and
increasing exposure to erosion. Then Mother Nature took her pound of
flesh, much like she is doing today across the globe. 


The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms causing major
ecological and agricultural damage to Midwest prairie lands from 1930 to
1936. The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades
of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops
or other techniques to prevent erosion. Deep plowing of the
virgin topsoil of the Great Plains had displaced the natural deep-rooted
grasses that normally kept the soil in place and trapped moisture even
during periods of drought and high winds. These immense dust
storms—given names such as “Black Blizzards” and “Black Rollers”—often
reduced visibility to a few feet. The Dust Bowl affected
100,000,000 acres, centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma.

Small farmers were hit especially hard. Even before the dust storms
hit, the invention of the tractor drastically cut the need for manpower
on farms. These small farmers were usually already in debt, borrowing
money for seed and paying it back when their crops came in. When the
dust storms damaged the crops, not only could the small farmer not feed
himself and his family, he could not pay back his debt. Banks would then
foreclose on the small farms and the farmer’s family would be both
homeless and unemployed. Between 1930 and 1935, nearly 750,000 farms
were lost through bankruptcy or sheriff sales.

Millions of acres of farmland became useless, and hundreds of
thousands of people were forced to leave their lifelong homes. They set
out on Route 66 toward the land of milk and honey – California. Hundreds
of thousands of families traveled this lonely road during the 1930s.


Many of these families, often known as “Okies”, since so many came
from Oklahoma migrated to California and other states, where they found
economic conditions little better during the Great Depression than those
they had left. Owning no land, many became migrant workers who traveled
from farm to farm to pick fruit and other crops at starvation
wages. While the Great Depression affected all Americans, about 40% of
the population was relatively unscathed. Not so for the “Okies”.

Californians tried to stop migrants from moving into their state by
creating checkpoints on main highways called “bum blockades.” California
even initiated an “anti-Okie” law which punished anyone bringing in
“indigents” with jail time. While Steinbeck highlights the plight of
migrant farm families in The Grapes of Wrath,
in reality, less than half (43%) of the migrants were farmers. Most
migrants came from east of the Dust Bowl and did not work on farms. By
1940, 2.5 million people had moved out of the Plains states; of those,
200,000 moved to California.

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men,
kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling,
are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we
detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and
self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the
quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
John Steinbeck


Steinbeck’s novel was a national phenomenon. The book won Steinbeck
the admiration of the working class, due to the book’s sympathy to the
common man and its accessible prose style. It also got him branded a
communist by the large California land barons and the non-stop
harassment by J. Edgar Hoover and the IRS for most of his life. The book
was lauded, debated, banned and burned. A book can only generate that
amount of heat by getting too close to a truth that those in power do
not want revealed. The Grapes of Wrath did just that. Steinbeck meant to
pin the blame where it belonged:

“I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects].”

The bankers who took their farms and cast them aside like a piece of
trash, the Wall Street speculators who got rich by peddling debt to the
working class, and the wealthy land barons who treated the migrant farm
workers like criminals, were to blame for the suffering of millions. The
pyramid of wealth was as unequal in 1929 as it is today. Unequal wealthThe
1% of the population at the very top of the pyramid had incomes 650%
greater than those 11% of Americans at the bottom of the pyramid. The
tremendous concentration of wealth in the hands of a few meant that
continued economic prosperity was dependent on the high investment and
luxury spending of the wealthy.

By 1929, the richest 1% owned 40% of the nation’s wealth. The top 5%
earned 33% of the income in the country. The bottom 93% experienced a 4%
drop in real disposable income between 1923 and 1929. The middle class
comprised only 20% of all Americans. Society was skewed heavily towards
the haves. By 1929, more than half of all Americans were living below a
minimum subsistence level. Those with means were taking advantage of low
interest rates by using margin to invest in stocks. The margin
requirement was only 10%, so you could buy $10,000 worth of stock for
$1,000 and borrow the rest. With artificially low interest rates and a
booming economy, companies extrapolated the good times and invested in
huge expansions. During the 1920s there were 1,200 mergers that
swallowed up more than 6,000 companies. By 1929, only 200
mega-corporations controlled over half of all American industry. The few
were enriched, while the many wallowed in poverty and despair.

When self proclaimed experts on the Great Depression, like Ben
Bernanke, proclaim that the Federal Reserve contributed to the
Depression by not expanding the monetary supply fast enough, they
practice the art of the Big Lie.  The Great Depression was mainly caused
by the expansion of the money supply by the Federal Reserve in the
1920’s that led to an unsustainable credit driven boom. Both Friedrich
Hayek and Ludwig von Mises predicted an economic collapse in early 1929.
 In the Austrian view it was this inflation of the money supply that
led to an unsustainable boom in both asset prices (stocks and bonds) and
capital goods. Ben Strong, the head of the Federal Reserve, attempted
to help Britain by keeping interest rates low and the USD weak versus
the Pound. The artificially low interest rates led to over investment in
textiles, farming and autos. In 1927 he lowered rates yet again leading
to a speculative frenzy leading up to the Great Crash. The ruling elite
of society were the Wall Street speculators. Only 1.5 million people
out of an entire population of 127 million invested in the stock
market. Margin loans increased from $3.5 billion in 1927 to $8.5 billion
in 1929. Stock prices rose 40% between May 1928 and September 1929,
while daily trading rose from 2 million shares to 5 million shares per
day. By the time the Federal Reserve belatedly tightened in 1928, it was
far too late to avoid a stock market crash and depression.

The Federal Reserve was created by bankers to benefit bankers. The
Federal Reserve purchased $1.1 billion of government securities from
February to July 1932, which raised its total holding to $1.8 billion.
Total bank reserves only rose by $212 million, but this was because the
American populace lost faith in the banking system and began hoarding
more cash, a factor very much beyond the control of the Central Bank.
The potential for a run on the banks caused local bankers to be more
conservative in lending out their reserves, and was the cause of the
Federal Reserve’s inability to inflate. From its backroom middle of the
night creation in 1913, the bank owned Federal Reserve has sought to
benefit its owners, the large Wall Street banking interests and its
politician protectors in Congress. The working class has always been
nothing more than hosts used by the parasites to tax and peddle debt to.

Income and wealth inequality reached a new peak in 2007, the highest
level of inequality since 1929. William Domhoff details this inequality
in the following terms:

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a
relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper
class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the
managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which
means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only
15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms
of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home),
the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.

Source: Domhoff

Real median household income in the U.S. is $49,777 today. It was
$52,388 in 1999 before George Bush took office. This is a 5% decline
over ten years. Even more disturbing is the fact that the top 20% of
households showed real increases in income. The bottom 50% lost income
during the last ten years, with the bottom 20% losing 8% of income over
this time frame. No wonder there is so much anger among the working
middle class in the country regarding the bailout for the top 1%. Sixty
million households make less today than they made 10 years ago. The
policies of the Federal Reserve over the last ten years have benefitted
speculators and punished seniors, savers and the working middle class.
Every policy, program and regulation rolled out by the Federal Reserve
in the last three years has been to prop up, enrich, and support their
Too Big To Fail Wall Street owners. The middle class American working
family is Too Small To Matter.

Steinbeck presciently realized that the suffering of the working
class was not due to bad weather, bad luck, or the actions of the
working class. It was caused by the rich ruling elite wielding their
power and influence across the land in their effort to enrich themselves
by any means necessary. Historical, social, and economic circumstances
separate people into rich and poor, landowner and tenant, and the people
in the dominant roles struggle viciously to preserve their positions.
During the Great Depression it was the brokers, bankers and businessmen
who maintained a dominant role, while farmers, workers, and the common
man were treated like dogs. Steinbeck used this symbolism by having the
Joad’s family dog be run over by a rich person driving a fancy roadster
early in the novel. Steinbeck saw the large California landowners as the
epitome of the evil Haves. The landowners created a system in which the
migrants were treated like animals, shuffled from one filthy roadside
camp to the next, denied livable wages, and forced to turn against their
brethren simply to survive.

Steinbeck’s world was black and white, good and evil, rich and poor.
Today, the corporate mainstream media would brand him a anti-capitalist,
socialist crackpot. Those in control want to keep the masses lost in
shades of grey. In the 1930s it was clearer regarding who was to blame.
The social safety net of New Deal programs from FDR had just begun. At
the time, I’m sure they seemed like a good idea to ease the suffering of
the poor. In reality, they did little to help, as the unemployment rate
was still 18% in 1939, ten years after the Depression began. These
programs, along with hundreds implemented since the 1930s, have created a
dependent underclassand have left America with unfunded liabilities in
excess of $100 trillion. The rich use the 70,000 page IRS tax code to
avoid taxes. They use their wealth to buy influence in Washington DC,
rigging the game in their favor. The bottom 50% of the population pays
no income taxes. The working middle class, with declining real incomes,
foot the bill. They are bamboozled into believing they can live like the
rich by a financial industry willing to lie, obfuscate and defraud
them. Corporate superstar CEOs, fawned over by the corporate media,
outsourced their good paying middle class jobs to foreign lands,
boosting EPS, their stock price and their mega-million bonuses. This may
not look like the 1930s, but it is worse for millions of American
working middle class families.  

The Dignity of Wrath

“…and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the
eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people
the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the
vintage.”  -
John Steinbeck - Grapes of Wrath


Steinbeck’s feelings about the people he was writing about can be summed up in this passage:

“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”

The Joads refuse to be broken by their circumstances. They maintain
their dignity, honor and self respect, despite the trials and
tribulations that befall them. Hunger, tragic death, and maltreatment by
the authorities do not break their spirit. Their dignity in the face of
tragedy stands in contrast to the vileness of the rich landowners and
the cops that treated the migrant workers like criminals.

No matter how much misfortune and degradation are heaped upon the
Joads, their sense of justice, family, and honor never waver. Steinbeck
believed that as long as people maintained a sense of injustice—a sense
of anger against those who sought to undercut their pride in
themselves—they would never lose their dignity. Tom Joad is the symbol
of all the mistreated working poor who refuse to be beaten down. The
landowners and the police are the oppressors. Tom kills a policeman in a
struggle for the dignity of the workers. Tom’s farewell to his Ma,
captures the essence of the struggle:

“Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.
Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed,
why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the
way kids laugh when they’re hungry n’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when
our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they
build—why, I’ll be there.” –
Tom Joad – Grapes of Wrath


Steinbeck’s wrath was directed towards the bankers who stole the
farms, the California landowners that treated the workers like vermin,
and the police who sided with the wealthy and carried out the brutality
on the workers. Tom Joad’s anger and wrath toward those who meant to
make them cower is portrayed powerfully in this passage:

“I know, Ma. I’m a-tryin’. But them deputies- Did you ever see a
deputy that didn’t have a fat ass? An’ they waggle their ass an’ flop
their gun aroun’. Ma”, he said, “if it was the law they was workin’
with, why we could take it. But it ain’t the law. They’re a-working away
at our spirits. They’re a-tryin’ to make us cringe an’ crawl like a
whipped bitch. They’re tryin’ to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they
comes a time when the on’y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin’
a sock at a cop. They’re working on our decency”.”

Today, Steinbeck’s wrath would be focused upon Wall Street
Mega-Banks, Mega-Corporations and the politicians that allow them to
pillage the wealth of the nation. Droughts, foreclosures and technology
drove millions of farmers into the cities during the 1930s and it
accelerated with the onset of World War II. America became manufacturer
to the world, with manufacturing accounting for over 28% of GDP in the
mid-1950s. The business of banking, insurance and real estate accounted
for less than 11% of GDP.  


Since the adoption of the credit card on a large scale in the late
1960′s, the role of bankers and debt in our society has grown
relentlessly and recklessly. The point of no return occurred in the
mid-1980′s when the financial sector passed the manufacturing sector in
relative importance for our economy. Today, banker generated profits
from peddling debt to the middle class, creating derivatives to defraud
widows and pension funds, and running their institutions like leveraged
casinos on steroids account for 21.5% of GDP. Manufacturing profits now
account for a pitiful 11.2% of GDP, as the CEO titans of industry at
General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Intel, and Apple shipped the
manufacturing jobs to Asia in a noble effort to boost earnings per share
and reward themselves with $30 million pay packages.   


Total U.S. debt as a percentage of GDP was remarkably stable at
approximately 130% for three decades, while financial profits as a
percentage of GDP consistently ranged just below 1%. The ascension of
Alan Greenspan to the throne of the Federal Reserve unleashed a dust
storm of debt and banking profits over the last 25 years. Total credit
and financial industry profits each grew by more than 250%. Real wages
of middle class workers are lower today than they were in 1971. Since
the higher paying manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas, Wall Street
stepped into the breach by providing trillions of debt to the average
American so they could buy stuff being produced in China by people who
took their jobs. Wall Street and the corporate media convinced middle
class Americans that their standard of living was increasing upon the
waves of debt. The godfather, Greenspan, watched over and protected the
big banks. When they screwed up in their efforts to pillage and plunder
on a grand scale, the godfather would reduce interest rates and flood
the system with liquidity. Heads they win, tails America loses.  

Source: Barry Ritholtz

The powerful Wall Street banks were un-refrained, unregulated and
unscrupulous in their unquenchable looting and ransacking of the wealth
of the American public. The Federal Reserve provided the fuel and
Congress lit the fuse with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, ultimately
leading to the biggest financial explosion in world financial history in
2008. The financial crisis was created by the biggest Wall Street banks
and the policies of the Federal Reserve. It is a tribute to their
monetary power, complete capture of the mainstream media, and total
ensnarement of the corrupt politicians in Washington DC, that somehow
the Too Big To Fail banks are bigger than they were before the crisis.
The working middle class has footed the bill for the trillions that have
been shoveled into the coffers of these criminal enterprises. As a
reward, the savers receive .25% on their savings. These men have put 8.5
million people out of work in the last three years. Steinbeck
understood that bankers who foreclosed on the homes of poor farmers and
fed the speculation that led to the Great Crash were nothing more than
extensions of an evil monster:

“No, you’re wrong there—quite wrong there. The bank is something
else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank
does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I
tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.”

The bankers that control our economy today deserve the same scorn and
wrath that Steinbeck heaped on bankers and California landowners in the
1930′s. Jesse, from Jesse’s Café Americain captures the wrath in this assessment of our current state of affairs:

“The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed,
with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustained
recovery. All else is looting and folly, with apathy and
complacent self-interest as their accomplices.”

Selfishness & Altruism

I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while
it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t
have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was
friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was
lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids
ain’t no good and they die out, but we keep on coming. We’re the people
that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us. We’ll go on
forever, Pa, cos we’re the people. –
Ma Joad - Grapes of Wrath

The power elite that believe they can control the masses
as puppet master commands a puppet should beware. The wrath of the
masses can be fierce and sudden. Ask Hosni Mubarak. As Steinbeck
realized many decades ago, selfishness run amok, supported and
encouraged by the authorities lead to poverty, despair and sometimes
revolution. The false mantra of an economy based on self-interest and
free markets is a smokescreen blown by the few with wealth and power to
obscure the truth that they have used their wealth and power to rig the
game in their favor. The have-nots can dream about becoming a have, but
the chances of achieving that dream today are miniscule. Steinbeck
pointedly distinguishes between the selfishness of the moneyed class and
the altruism of the working poor. In contrast to and in conflict with
this policy of selfishness stands the migrants’ behavior toward one
another. Aware that their livelihood and survival depend upon their
devotion to the collective good, the migrants unite—sharing their dreams
as well as their burdens—in order to survive. 

Those in control need to keep the masses divided. They need Americans
to be distracted by phantom terrorist threats, inconsequential
political differences, American Idol, Charlie Sheen, Lindsey Lohan and
Lady Gaga. They need Americans to be focused on “I”. Their greatest fear
is that the American people realize that “We” can change the direction
of this country and bring the perpetrators of crimes against the people
of this country to justice. John Steinbeck saw the potential power of
the common man if they became “We”:  

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking
along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my
land. I am alone and bewildered. And in the night one family camps in a
ditch and another family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men
squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node,
you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men
apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlarge of
the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here “I lost my land” is
changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you
hate–”We lost our land.” The danger is here, for two men are not as
lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first “we” there grows a
still more dangerous thing: “I have a little food” plus “I have none.”
If from this problem the sum is “We have a little food,” the thing is on
its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now,
and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch,
the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent,
stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to
words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a
cold. Here, take this blanket. It’s wool. It was my mother’s
blanket–take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the
beginning–from “I” to “we.” -
John Steinbeck - Grapes of Wrath

The American people have a choice. They can continue on a course of
apathy, selfishness and worship of mammon, or they can rally together
with selflessness and concern for the welfare of their fellow man and
future unborn generations. The current path, forged by a minority of
privileged wealthy elite, will lead to the destruction of this country
and misery on an unprecedented scale. It is up to each of us to show the
courage of John Steinbeck, who without a thought for himself, stood up
against the stones of condemnation, and spoke for those who were given
no real voice in the halls of justice, or the halls of government. By
doing so he became an enemy of the political status quo. Are you
prepared to incur the wrath of the vested interests and meet their lies
and propaganda with the fury of your own wrath in search for the
truth? These men are sure you don’t have the courage, fortitude and
wrath to defeat them.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

- Battle Hymn of the Republic

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dick cheneys ghost's picture

the empire has no clothes.......keep your eye on pakistan. things are heating up.

papaswamp's picture

Firing teargas in Iran...Reuters

jus_lite_reading's picture

This article is a masterpiece. Remember what I said about history rhyming...


For the first time in over a year, I saw a movie (The King's Speech) in the actual theater, and came home thinking about several things-

1- The round trip, cost me $4.47 in gas- $3.29/gal, 9 miles each way, 14MPG. 

2- The movie ticket price has increased 15% since last year ($10.50 to $12.00 now)

3- It is not worth the price of admission to see a movie any longer when the cost of two tickets covers the price of netflix and partial cable bill for an entire month.

4- Most of the movie goers where teenagers. There were all but 5 people viewing the King's Speech and all of us were boomers.


Racer's picture

Where do I go to join the revolution crowd?

lesterbegood's picture

"Where do I go to join the revolution crowd?"

Re-inhabiting the Republic for the united States of America c.1787, and the 50 free state republics; peacefully, non-violently, and without confrontation.

The truth is becoming self-evident.


nonclaim's picture

Be a leader, start your own.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Start you're own. It's the only way you can be sure of knowing where one is.

Look within for it and it will be found. Ask others to find it for you and you will be led astray. It all begins within.

beastie's picture

To paraphrase Steinbeck; It begins with I and ends with We.

Or choose your own path and you will meet the others on the road.


Oh regional Indian's picture

The revolution, the Jihad and the effects are all really inner things.

This outward massing is lambs to the slaughter.

First find the real/original I, then go to the we. Else, which I are you taking into the we? Which Racer will join or lead the revolution? 


Cathartes Aura's picture

excellent - "first, know thyself"

then align with others in awareness.

Bearster's picture

"The false mantra of an economy based on self-interest and free markets is a smokescreen blown by the few with wealth and power to obscure the truth that they have used their wealth and power to rig the game in their favor."

What free markets?  Self-interest?  All we have is ever-increasing taxes, ever-increasing handouts, ever-increasing regulation, and ever increasing size, scope, intrusiveness, and power of government.  Always justified by altruism.

AnAnonymous's picture

People are divided. Mass, elite, all are divided.

Under the US world order, even undivided conditions like individuality (now a collection of bits fragmented over various groups, with the implicit idea of common experience inherited from each bit) or humanity (with the astounding addition of non human beings, most blatant denial of an ostentious face) have been divided.

The US world order is one of divisions and only knows one congregation means: lies, propaganda and fantasy.


Cathartes Aura's picture

there have always been "divisions" - it's a way of noticing that all people do not think alike, have differing views of reality - it's not necessarily a "bad" thing, until the realities collide in violence to individuals, then it needs addressing, yes.

“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”John Steinbeck

this is a great quote, and as yet no one has addressed it on the thread - these "admirable qualities" - are they still admired in men?  I don't think so - I think they were outsourced to women, while the major cultural focus was on the "detested" qualities, which have been highly cultivated in the men as the artificial divide between the "sexes" widens in the cultural sphere.

I know many males & females who can and do embody all of the admired traits listed above, and I see the majority who still allow themselves to be defined by the detested traits because they've been elevated to admired status - this is where the work can be done, correcting those human qualities that are in-tolerable going forward.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Excellent observations CA.

But I think someone hit the blender speed to high and it's going to get harder to hang on without really knowing where your own spin center lies. And qualities and characteristics, lightly held or taped on, will go flyiing back in the mix too.


Cathartes Aura's picture

always love your wise wordages ORI -

it's going to get harder to hang on without really knowing where your own spin center lies

best let go the sides and surrender to the great incoming mix, where artificial stories told to/about "self" lose their flavours in the face of experiences felt. . . spring equinox, Aries zero point, explosions of energy March & April, as the gods of war bluster. . .

(watching a lone vulture atop a tall fir tree outside my window, one wing extended for morning drying, before taking flight. . .*smile*)


alien-IQ's picture

"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when producing is punished and looting rewarded"

Ayn Rand - Atlas Shrugged

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Ayn Rand was a twisted, spiteful, selfish bitch with little or no humanity - I just don't get the libertarian devotion to that woman.

alien-IQ's picture

So was Nietzsche and Machiavelli...but does the personality flaw make the writing less relevant or true? You made the leap to the assumption that I am a libertarian simply because I quoted an author you have a preconceived notion and prejudice about. Doesn't that make you rather narrow minded and judgmental? You are trapped by labels. Until you break those mental'll forever be it's slave.

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

@Alien - IQ

Yes perhaps I am not being entirely rational - my gut tells me her ideas break a basic common sence barrier.

The primate group is / was never entirely altruistic or individualist - it is / was a combination of the two , a meme that entirely divorces a primate from the group is just nonsense.

alien-IQ's picture

I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't know when I say that to avoid the work of authors who are less than nice or good people is to cut yourself off from some of the finest writing in the world.

The list of authors that were assholes reads like a who's who in the literary world...But the writing is still often brilliant. It is the confrontational and controversial personality that often produces the most challenging, provocative and important works.

Pants McPants's picture

Minor quibble here, but Ayn Rand was not a libertarian.  She referred to libertarians as "hippies of the right" or something similar.

In spite of this, many libertarians and anarchists begin their philosophical journies away from the US public school brainwashing by reading her stuff.  I am among this crowd.  But shortly after reading her work I was turned off by her vapid response to true invididualists like Murray Rothbard.  Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead remain inspirational to me....but I can do without Rand the person and her silly objectivist philosophy.

Ayn Rand's picture

Watch how you talk about me.

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Sorry Ayn , is hell warm enough for you down there or do you prefer it hotter ? - even if Satan is reluctant to turn up the thermostat , you still have the option of self - flagellation 

just saying

serotonindumptruck's picture

You meant self-immolation, correct?

We should be seeing more and more of that as unrest in the ME becomes contagious.

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

No , I imagine that Lucifer would be wise enough to realise that giving Ayn control of the FIRE economy would result in the complete implosion of the Satanic business model.

However publicly whipping herself in a self contained little corner may even attract some tourists from Limbo and generate a nice little revenue stream. 



serotonindumptruck's picture

I attempted to read Atlas Shrugged a few years ago. It was one of the few books that I chose to put down half-way through (with no regrets).

While I disagree with Rand's personal brand of politics, I don't desire her to suffer eternal damnation, either.

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Just kidding , can't a Dork have some fun - I imagine she resides somewhere in Limbo given that her ideas were wildly delusional and therefore not the beliefs of a rational mind.

alien-IQ's picture

Does this mean you also deprived yourself of reading "Death of a Salesman" because Arthur Miller is a Socialist?

I hear Jackie Collins is very nice.

serotonindumptruck's picture

Actually, I don't read much fiction. I would say science and philosophy are my normal reading materials.

I tried reading Rand about the same time that I was reading the writings of Pyotr Kropotkin and Frederick Engels.

Bob's picture

Now that's a delightful twist:  We are Gault, you lyin' mother fuckers!

I likee.

apberusdisvet's picture

No American will "revolt" if he/she receives a government check or SNAP card.  Soon that will be an overwhelming majority.  They've planned well.  They've indoctrinated well.  Capital controls are increasing.  The vise of a police state gets tighter and tighter. 

Ayn Rand's picture

They will revolt when the government check stops coming.

Rusty_Shackleford's picture

The government checks will always keep on coming. 


The revolt will only come when those checks finally bounce.

SilverRhino's picture

Which will be soon enough.  The other condition that they will revolt will be when the SNAP card buys nothing but base foods and not enough. (implied bounce vs explicit bounce)

When your rice/beans/flour purchases are a significant percentage of your income and meat is out of reach, they'll revolt.


Bob's picture

They'll begin before then, as soon as a significant percentage are without cable.  Watch the 99ers. 

anony's picture

Only when the people of this country get to the point of wearing Breadsticks and pita bread on their heads to protect them from falling bludgeons and nightsticks from a policeman will that ever happen.

Nothing about revolution can be learned from the Egyptians, re:  the United States.

The U.S. is, once again, far too large, diverse, spread out over too many miles with too many conclaves of folks doing just great. Check out Kansas, Missouri, W. By-god, and many cities in many states that are thriving. 

Any consideration of an outbreak here like that of the Egyption motif, is mental ping pong.

Hacksaw's picture

My grandfather, who lived through the depression, always said there are three groups who should never be trusted or given an unfettered reign. Bankers were at the top of the list, followed closely by lawyers and politicians.

jimijon's picture

Just reading those passages again brought a tear to my eye. Gosh, how long was it ago I read and did not really understand? But now, with just a few passages both my soul and my mind hears and comprehends.

Mr. Poon's picture

With all due respect, the simple problem here is one too many commentators have been facing for decades now:  a tendency to see the world in a way that is severely out-of-date.

It is no longer 1929, and the way the world works now is no longer the way it worked in 1929.  That should be self-evident, but that stuck-in-time mindset is precisely why we have been afflicted with failed policies which may have worked fifty years ago (although even that is doubtful) but clearly do not work now.

The general sentiment expressed here, that wealth is too highly concentrated, is actually directly contrary to the experience of the United States.  The only real assets of any value--land and the means of production--have been more widely distributed than among any other population since antiquity.  That, admittedly, is due to the extraordinary injustice against Native Americans of the appropriation of nearly all their land, but the end result was a distribution of land and means of production that was far more evenly distributed among the American population than the still consolidated post-feudal lands of Europe or Asia (where, contrary to socialist mythology, means of production remain highly concentrated in the hands of the corporate conglomerates, in turn owned, directly or indirectly, by the remnants of the ruling classes).

Yes, on paper there is a concentration of wealth in the upper classes, but it is precisely that, on paper--obligations (not land or means of production) that can go to zero in a moment.  That should not be confused with real wealth.

The distribution of lands and means of production peaked around the turn of the early 20th century, but beyond that point, automation and efficiency produced powerful incentives for consolidation of operations.  Unfortunately, too many small manufacturers and small farmers failed to adjust, and instead of what was the best, if not the easiest, alternative, namely selling out and moving on while prices were high, they clung to hope and got deep in debt.  There was no good ending to that story.

The era of small farming (or at least, of the scale seen before the Great Depression) is over, but means of production continue to be widely distributed.  Instead of small farms, it is distributed among small retail, small IT startups, small local contractors.  Granted, cheap access to credit by corporate conglomerates continues to threaten small businesses, and continues to contribute to the consolidation of capital.  But that is a dynamic very different from the situation at the end of the Great Depression.  It isn't 1929 any more, and we should stop pretending that it is, whatever false comfort that easy analysis might provide.

alien-IQ's picture

While the industrial world may have changed over time...the basic needs of human beings have not. And when one is deprived of those basic needs...storm clouds gather....and that, to me, is what makes this point in time similar to 1929.

Kayman's picture


Without getting into the debate whether it is 1929 or not, where exactly is the economic engine of the U.S. economy ?  

If 21% of GDP is contained in the FIRE sector, where is the value-added in the economy to support this parasite class ?

Without out being cutesy about language, the U.S. is losing (yes, a "deficit" is a loss) trillions annually, the Fed is trying to paper over the Trillions of losses that the New York RICO bankers incurred by trying to inflate specific assets ( a game they are quite clumsy at), so do you think Goldman can lend to JPM and JPM lends it back to Goldman (each one taking a skim) ?

I fail to see an economic engine to keep the parasites alive; they seem willfully blind to the fact that this pig don't fly anymore.


Hacksaw's picture

With all due respect the idea that this time is different is the problem. The same things are going on and the answers to the problems are the same. The elite renege on promises made to small business and workers and then scream when they don't pay on loans. The elite then proceed to foreclose on collateral, putting the borrower out on the street. The elite then goes to the taxpayer who are the workers and small business they just screwed and extort trillions of dollars by threatening the end of the world if the money isn't forth coming. Then the elite portray the borrower as a lazy, no count deadbeat. The answer is the same, stop buying anything that isn't absolutely necessary, take care of family and neighbors. Investigate, prosecute, and punish the elite who defrauded and extorted the American people. Get back to local retail and banking. A "if it's not made here you can't sell it here law" would be nice too. Globalism and free trade needs to be refuted. The elite think they have it all figured out this time. They can starve out the workers and still prosper by moving to China. The smartest guys in the room still don't get it. You can't sell much to a guy making 2 bucks a day. We can either embrace the solution or wait until the solution embraces us. The later will be much more painful.



Pants McPants's picture

The "if its not made here you cannot sell it here" law is a very bad idea.  Wholesale localization has been tried several times before - it was primarily referred to as the Dark Ages.

I for one support global trade.  The more trade the better. 

I also support a return to sound money. Only a gold standard will place everyone on "equal" footing, enabling world trade to flourish.

Diogenes's picture

In this day of locavores, organic produce and farmers' markets it is the small farmer who has the best chance to make a living. The larger operators who are locked into the factory farm model with its rising cost of fuel, artificial fertilizer, pesticides, Monsanto seed etc are the ones feeling the pinch.