Guest Post: Lies Across America

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Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform

Lies Across America

“Every single empire, in its official discourse, has said that it
is not like all the others, that its circumstances are special, that it
has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and
that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy,
and that it uses force only as a last resort.”
Edward Said

The increasingly fragile American Empire has been built on a
foundation of lies. Lies we tell ourselves and Big lies spread by our
government. The shit is so deep you can stir it with a stick. As we
enter another holiday season the mainstream corporate mass media will
relegate you to the status of consumer. This is a disgusting term that
dehumanizes all Americans. You are nothing but a blot to corporations
and advertisers selling you electronic doohickeys that they convince you
that you must have. Propaganda about consumer spending being essential
to an economic recovery is spewed from 52 inch HDTVs across the land, 24
hours per day, by CNBC, Fox, CBS and the other corporate owned media
that generate billions in profits from selling advertising to
corporations schilling material goods to thoughtless American consumers.
 Aldous Huxley had it figured out decades ago:

“Thanks to compulsory education and the rotary press, the
propagandist has been able, for many years past, to convey his messages
to virtually every adult in every civilized country.”

Americans were given the mental capacity to critically think. Sadly, a
vast swath of Americans has chosen ignorance over knowledge. Make no
mistake about it, ignorance is a choice. It doesn’t matter whether you
are poor or rich. Books are available to everyone in this country. Sob
stories about the disadvantaged poor having no access to education are
nothing but liberal spin to keep the masses controlled. There are
122,500 libraries in this country. If you want to read a book, you can
read a book. The internet puts knowledge at the fingertips of every
citizen. Becoming educated requires hard work, sacrifice, curiosity, and
a desire to learn. Aldous Huxley  describes the American choice to be ignorant:

 “Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.”

It is a choice to play Call of Duty on your PS3 rather than reading
Shakespeare. It is a choice to stand on a street corner looking for
trouble rather than reading Hemingway. It is a choice to spend Black
Friday in malls fighting other robotic consumers for iSomethings, the
latest innovative, advanced TVs, flashy Rolexes, and ostentatious Coach
bags rather than spending the day reading Guns of August by
Barbara Tuchman, a brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning history of the
outset of World War I, which would provide insight into what could
happen on the Korean Peninsula. It is a choice to watch 6 hours per day
of Dancing With the Stars, American Idol, Brainless Housewives of
Everywhere, or CSI of Anywhere rather than reading Orwell or Huxley  and discovering that their dystopian warnings have come true.

 Conspicuous Consumption Conquistadors

Americans have chosen to lie to themselves. They have persuaded
themselves that buying stuff with plastic cards while paying 19%
interest for eternity, driving BMWs while locked into never ending
indecipherable lease schemes, and living in permanently underwater
McMansions bought with 0% down on an interest only liar loan, is the new
American Dream. They think watching the boob tube will make them smart.
They soak in the mass media hype, misinformation and lies like lemmings
walking off a cliff. Depending on their political predisposition, they
watch Fox or MSNBC and unthinkingly believe the propaganda that pours
from the mouths of the multi-millionaire talking heads who read
Teleprompters with words written by corporate media hacks. They tell
themselves that buying stuff on credit, giving them the appearance of
success as measured by the media elite, is actually success. This is a
bastardized, manipulated, delusional version of accomplishment.
Americans have chosen to believe the lies because the truth is too hard
to accept.

Becoming educated, thinking critically, working hard, saving money to
buy what you need (as opposed to what you want), developing human
relationships, and questioning the motivations of government, corporate
and religious leaders is hard. It is easy to coast through school and
never read a book for the rest of your life. It is easy to not think
about the future, your retirement, or the future of unborn generations.
It is easy to coast through life at a job (until you lose it) that is
unchallenging, with no desire or motivation for advancement. It is easy
to make your everyday troubles disappear by whipping out your piece of
plastic and acquiring everything you desire today. If your
brother-in-law buys a 7,000 sq ft, 7 bedroom, 4 bath, 3 car garage,
monolith to decadence for his family of 3, thirty miles from
civilization, with no money down and a no doc Option ARM providing the
funds, why shouldn’t you get in on the fun. It’s easy. Why sit around
the kitchen table and talk with your kids, when you can easily cruise
the internet downloading free porn or recording every trivial detail of
your shallow life on Facebook so others can waste their time reading
about your life. It is easiest to believe your elected leaders,
glorified mega-corporation CEOs, and millionaire pastors preaching the
word of God for a “small” contribution to their mega-churches.

Americans love authority figures who act as if they have all the
answers. It matters not that these egotistical monuments to folly and
hubris (Bush, Obama, Paulson, Geithner, Greenspan, Bernanke) have
committed the worst atrocities in the history of our Republic, leaving
economic carnage and the slaughter of thousands in their wake. The most
dangerous man on this earth is an Ivy League educated, arrogant
ideologue who believes they are smarter than everyone else. When these
men achieve power, they are capable of producing catastrophic
consequences. Once they seize the reigns of authority these amoral
psychopaths have no problem lying to the American public in order to
achieve their objectives. They know that Americans love to be lied to,
so the bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed.

The current lie proliferating across the land of the free financing
and home of the debtor is that austerity has broken out across the land.
The mainstream media and the government, aided by various “think tanks”
and Federal Reserve propagandists insist that Americans have buckled
down, reduced spending, increased savings, and have embraced austerity.

Austerity – Circa 1932

 

Austerity – Circa 2010

 

They now proclaim that it is time to spend again. It is the patriotic
thing to do, just like defeating terrorists by buying an SUV with 0%
down from GM was the patriotic thing to do after 9/11. Defeating
terrorists by going further into debt was the brilliant idea of those
Ivy League geniuses Bush & Greenspan. Let’s critically examine the
facts to determine how austere Americans have become:

  • Consumer credit outstanding is $2.41 trillion, the same level
    reached in early 2007, and up from $1.5 trillion in 2000. This is a 60%
    increase in ten years. Personal income has risen from $8.4 trillion to
    $12.6 trillion over this same time frame, a 50% increase. Americans have
    substituted debt for income in order to keep up with the Joneses. The
    mass delusion lives.  
  • The MSM declares that the reduction in overall consumer debt from
    its peak of $2.56 trillion in 2008 to $2.41 trillion today proves that
    consumers have been cutting back and paying off debt. This is another
    media lie. Non-revolving debt, which includes car loans, education
    loans, mobile home loans and boat loans sits at $1.6 trillion, an
    all-time high matched in 2008. Credit card debt has “plunged” from $957
    billion to $814 billion, not because consumers paid down their balances.
    The mega Wall Street banks have written off $20 billion per quarter
    since early 2009, accounting for ALL of the reduction in credit card
    debt. Clueless consumers continue to charge at the same rate as the peak
    in 2008.
  • Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt: $15,788
  • There are 609.8 million bank credit cards held by U.S. consumers.
  • The U.S. credit card default rate is 13.01%
  • In 2006, the United States Census Bureau determined that there were
    nearly 1.5 billion credit cards in use in the U.S. A stack of all those
    credit cards would reach more than 70 miles into space – and be almost
    as tall as 13 Mount Everests.
  • Penalty fees from credit cards added up to about $20.5 billion in 2009.
  • The national average default rate as January 2010 stood at 27.88% and the mean default rate is 28.99%.
  • Total bankruptcy filings in 2009 reached 1.4 million, up from 1.09
    million in 2008. Bankruptcies in 2010 are on pace to exceed 1.6 million.
     
  • 26% of Americans, or more than 58 million adults, admit to not
    paying all of their bills on time. Among African-Americans, this number
    is at 51%. 

           Does This Look Like Austerity? Really?

 

This data clearly proves that austerity has not broken out across the
land of delusion. The billions in consumer loan write-offs by the Wall
Street banks that run this country have masked the fact that Americans
have not cut back on their spending habits at all. GMAC (taxpayer owned)
and Ford Credit continue to dish out car loans to anyone with a pulse
and a 600 credit score. The Federal Reserve and the FASB have
encouraged, if not insisted, that banks fraudulently value the
commercial real estate loans on their books. The Federal Reserve has
bought $1.5 trillion of toxic mortgage loans from the criminal Wall
Street banks at 100 cents on the dollar. The government’s corporate
fascist public relations firms then spread the big lie that the economy
is recovering and consumers should join the party and spend, spend,
spend.

If Americans were capable or willing to do some critical thinking,
they would realize that those in power have created the illusion of a
recovery by handing $700 billion of your money to the banks that created
the financial meltdown, spending $800 billion on worthless pork barrel
projects borrowed from future generations, dropping interest rates to 0%
so that the mega-Wall Street banks can earn billions risk free while
your grandmother who depended on interest income from her CDs edges
closer to eating cat food to get by, and lastly Ben Bernanke’s blatant
attempt to enrich Wall Street by buying US Treasury bonds in an effort
to make the stock market go up, while the middle and lower classes are
crushed under the weight of soaring fuel and food price increases that
exceed 30% on an annual basis. The illusion of recovery is not a
recovery. With a true unemployment rate of 22%, a true inflation rate of
8% and a real GDP of -1.5% (Shadowstats), we are in the midst of the Greater Depression. You are being lied to, but most of you prefer it.   

The Little Lies We Tell Ourselves

“Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know.” – M King Hubbert

When Jimmy Carter gave his malaise speech in 1979, Americans were in
no mood to listen. Carter’s solutions were too painful, required
sacrifice, and sought to benefit future generations. The leading edge of
the Baby Boom generation had reached their 30s by 1979, and the most
spoiled, pampered, egocentric generation in history could care less
about future generations, long term thinking, or sacrifice for the
greater good. They were the ME GENERATION. The 1970s had proven to be
tumultuous episode in US history. M King Hubbert’s calculation in 1956
that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s proved to be 100%
correct.

File:US Oil Production and Imports 1920 to 2005.png

The Arab oil embargo resulted in gas shortages and economic chaos in
the U.S. Hubbert used the same method to determine that worldwide oil
production would peak in the early 2000s. If long term planning had been
initiated in the early 1980s, combining exploration of untapped
reserves, greater utilization of natural gas, development of nuclear
plants, more stringent fuel efficiency standards, increased taxes on
gasoline, and more thoughtful development of housing communities, we
would not now face a looming oil crisis within the next few years.
Instead of dealing with reality, adapting our behavior and preparing for
a more localized society, we put our blinders on, chose ignorance over
reason and pushed the pedal to the medal by moving farther away from our
jobs, building bigger energy intensive mansions, and insisting on
driving tank-like SUVs, Hummers, and good ole boy pickups. Kevin
Phillips in American Theocracy
explained that hyper-consumerism, fear, and inability to use logic have
left our suburban oasis lives in danger of implosion when the reality
of peak cheap oil strikes:  

 Besides the innate thirst of SUVs, some of the last quarter
century’s surge in U.S. oil consumption has come from Americans driving
more – some twelve thousand miles per motorist per year, up almost one –
third from 1980 – because they as a whole live farther from work. In
consumption terms, exurbia is the physical result of the latest
population redistribution enabled by car culture and the electorate that
upholds it.

Family values are central – if by this we mean having families
and accepting lengthy commutes to install them in reasonably safe and
well churched places. In the 1970’s such households might have been
fleeing school busing or central city crime; in the post – September 11
era, many sought distance from “godless” school systems or the random
violence and terrorist attacks expected to occur in metropolitan areas.

We willingly believe the lies espoused by the badly informed pundits
on CNBC and Fox   that if we just drill in Alaska and off our coasts,
we’ll be fine. The ignorant peak cheap oil deniers insist there are
billions of barrels of oil to be harvested from the Bakken Shale, even
though there is absolutely no method of accessing this supply without
expending more energy than we can access. Environmentalists lie about
the dangers of nuclear power, while shamelessly promoting the ridiculous
notion that solar, wind and ethanol can make a visible impact on our
future energy needs. Ideologues on the right and left conveniently
ignore the facts and the truth is lost in a blizzard of their lies. Here
is an explanation so clear, even a CNBC “drill baby drill” dimwit could
understand:

When oil production first began in the mid-nineteenth century,
the largest oil fields recovered fifty barrels of oil for every barrel
used in the extraction, transportation and refining. This ratio is often
referred to as the Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROEI).
Currently, between one and five barrels of oil are recovered for each
barrel-equivalent of energy used in the recovery process. As the EROEI
drops to one, or equivalently the Net Energy Gain falls to zero, the oil
production is no longer a net energy source. This happens long before
the resource is physically exhausted.

File:Hubbert peak oil plot.svg

After the briefest of lulls when oil reached $145 per barrel,
Americans have resumed buying SUVs, pickup trucks, and gas guzzling
muscle cars. They have chosen to ignore the imminence of peak cheap oil
because driving a leased BMW makes your neighbors think you are a
success, while driving a hybrid would make your neighbors think you are a
liberal tree hugger. It boggles my mind that so many Americans are so
shallow and shortsighted. According to Automotive News, at the start of
2008 leasing comprised 31.2% of luxury vehicle sales and 18.7% of
non-luxury sales. This proves that hundreds of thousands of wannabes are
driving leased BMWs and Mercedes to fill some void in their superficial
lives.

I bought a Honda Insight Hybrid six months ago. It gets 44 mpg and
will save me $1,500 per year in gasoline costs. I put 20% down and
financed the remainder at 0.9% for three years. My payment is $450 per
month. I will own it outright in 2 ½ years. I could have leased a 2010
BMW 328i with moonroof, bluetooth, power seats with driver seat memory,
lumbar support, leather interior, iPod adapter, 17″ alloy wheels, heated
seats, wood trim, 3.0 Liter 6 Cylinder engine with 230 horsepower for 3
years at $389 per month. At the end of 3 years I’d own nothing. In 2 ½
years I’ll be able to put $450 per month away for my kids’ college
education and I’ll be saving more on fuel as gasoline approaches $5 per
gallon. The self important egotistical BMW leaser pretending to be
successful will need to hand over their sweet ride and move on to the
next lease, never saving a dime for the future. I’m sure they’ll make a
killing in the market or their McMansion will surely double in price,
providing a fantastic retirement.  

             Delusional                                   Practical

   

The delusion that cheap oil is a God given right of all Americans can
be seen in the YTD data on vehicle sales. Pickups and SUVs account for
48.5% of all sales, while small fuel efficient cars account for only
16.5% of all sales. Americans will continue to lie to themselves until
it is too late, again.

Americans are so committed to their automobiles, hyper-consumerism,
oversized McMansions, and suburban sprawl existence that they will never
willingly prepare in advance for a future by scaling back, downsizing,
or thinking. Our culture is built upon consumption, debt, cheap oil and
illusion. Kevin Phillips in American Theocracy
concludes that there are so many Americans tied to our unsustainable
economic model that they will choose to lie to themselves and be lied to
by their leaders rather than think and adapt:  

A large number of voters work in or depend on the energy and
automobile industries, and still more are invested in them, not just
financially but emotionally and culturally. These secondary cadres
included racing fans, hobbyists, collectors, and dedicated readers of
automotive magazines, as well as the tens of millions of automobile
commuters from suburbs and distant exurbs, plus the high number of
drivers whose strong self-identification with vehicle types and models
serve as thinly disguised political statements. In the United States
more than elsewhere, a preference for conspicuous consumption over
energy efficiency and conservation is a signal of a much deeper, central
divide.

M King Hubbert was a geophysicist and a practical man. He observed
data, made realistic assumptions, and came to logical conclusions. He
didn’t deal in unrealistic hope and unwarranted optimism. He knew that
our culture had become so dependent upon lies and an unsustainable
growth model based on depleting oil and debt based “prosperity”. He knew
decades ago that we were incapable of dealing with the truth:

“Our principal constraints are cultural. During the last two
centuries we have known nothing but exponential growth and in parallel
we have evolved what amounts to an exponential-growth culture, a culture
so heavily dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its
stability that it is incapable of reckoning with problems of
non-growth.”
M King Hubbert

Our country is at a crucial juncture. It is time for thinkers. It is
time for realists. It is time to deal with facts. It is time to drive
the ideologues off the stage. Are you tired of lying to yourselves? Are
you tired of being lied to by the corporate fascists that run this
country? It is time to wake up. Right wing and left wing ideologues will
continue to spew lies and misinformation as they are power hungry and
care not for the long-term survival of our nation or the unborn
generations that depend upon the decisions we make today. It is time to
see how we really are.

 “Most of one’s life is one prolonged effort to prevent
oneself from thinking. People intoxicate themselves with work so they
won’t see how they really are.”
–   Aldous Huxley