ilene's picture

I think we're looking at something closer to the top 0.1% now, rather than the top 1%, but nevertheless, Mark Ames takes a deep, dark, disturbing look at economics. (And no, that chart below is not AAPL.) ~ Ilene



This article was first published in

A little over a year ago, while researching the Confederacy’s economy, I stumbled across this unnerving graph charting the value of America’s “stock of slaves” in the last decades before the Civil War.

This graph tells the real story behind the South’s secession: the value of the South’s “slave stock”—the property of the ruling class — soared as secession approached, reaching an almost 90-degree angle in those final years before Harper’s Ferry. The South’s ruling class seceded to protect their riches, period:


From afar, if you didn’t know that human “slave stock” was the asset being charted, you could easily mistake this graph, and its parabolic trajectory, for one of the many destructive asset bubbles this country has suffered right up through our own time.

Up close, this graph drips greed, mass murder and shame — it strips away the historical revisionism that falsely ascribed the South’s “cause” to an almost selfless, tragically romantic attachment to “tradition” and “culture”; it gives lie to the myth that slave owners kept their slaves to the detriment of their own bottom line.

Like the worst wars and the worst of history’s villains, the Confederacy’s one percenters seceded and fought in order to continue profiting from their most valuable investment properties — their human slave stock.

The graph comes from a grim working paper, “Capitalists Without Capital”, written in the late 1980s by a UC Berkeley economist, Richard Sutch, and a UC Riverside historian, Robert Ransom.

As they showed, slavery produced huge profits for southerners who invested in slave capital — to the detriment of all other portfolio investments, as the value of slaves soared in the mid-19th century. By that time, by far the largest cotton-growing states’ wealth was in slave stock, not in real estate or other investments.

The slave trade was outlawed in 1808; but the slave population quadrupled from 1 million in 1800 to 4 million in 1860 — encouraged by slaveowners who “bred” their human stock, thereby multiplying their profits as the value of each slave rose.

Slavery is often portrayed by revisionist historians as somehow antithetical to market capitalism; in reality, slavery was a winning portfolio investment, the very incarnation of just how evil “free-market” capitalism can be. As the authors write:

“If slaves … were an investment included in the asset portfolio of the planter/entrepreneur, they helped satisfy the owner’s demand for wealth. But unlike most other forms of capital, which depreciate with time, the stock of slaves appreciated. Thus, the growth of the slave population continuously increased the stock of wealth.”

What makes this graph so disturbing for us in 2012 is what it suggests about today’s “1 percent” — and how they view the rest of us. It gives form to the brutal crackdown on the Occupy protests — and suggests darker things to come as we try to free ourselves from their vision of civilization, and our place in it.

Contrast that with this McKinsey report put out a few years ago by the director of the consulting group’s New York office. Titled “The New Metrics of Corporate Performance: Profit Per Employee”, the report argues that the best performing firms in our increasingly financialized era are those companies that have learned to squeeze ever-larger profits out of each employee — and not by the more traditional “return on investment” metric.

The McKinsey report looked at the world’s 30 largest companies between 1995 and 2005, and found that their return on human capital more than doubled, from an average of $35,000 profit per employee to $83,000, leading to this rather frank and nauseating conclusion:

“If a company’s capital intensity doesn’t increase, profit per employee is a pretty good proxy for the return on intangibles. The hallmark of financial performance in today’s digital age is an expanded ability to earn ‘rents’ from intangibles. Profit per employee is one measure of those rents. If a company boosts its profit per employee without increasing its capital intensity, management will increase its rents.”

Extracting rent from “employees” as a business strategy: This is supposed to be the language of feudalism, not modern advanced capitalism — and yet this is the cutting edge in 21st century capitalist thinking, unashamed and unvarnished:

“One way to improve a company’s profit per employee is simply to shed low-profit employees. But if they generate profit greater than the cost of the capital used to support their work, shedding them actually reduces the creation of wealth.”

As with slave stock in a Southern investor’s portfolio, the McKinsey report argues that as a corporation learns to successfully extract rent from its employees, the more employees it extracts rent from, the greater its aggregate profits.


The new metrics: How much “rent” can be extracted from employees, not investments

To compare “the 99 percent” to African slaves would be crude; but the mindset of “the 1 percent” then, as now, is eerily consistent. They view the rest of us not as human beings with rights, but as livestock whose meat is “rent” to be extracted.

This is the language of plutocratic capitalism, a brutal system totally incompatible with democracy and antithetical to republican government and civilization. It is the language of misery, and misery is what “the 1 percent” is promising “the 99 percent” for years to come, in ever-greater doses.

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

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Raging Debate's picture

Paneful. Show me evidence of $2.00 wage per day for 50% of the population. Your number sounds like the figures of 1988 not 2012. The 2004 feasibility study I conducted for Carnival showed $7,500 annual earning for India and $11,500 for China. I believe $2.00 day wage is North Korea. You're being disingenerous.

In the U.S., inflation has oustripped wages causing demand destruction. Outsourcing was the mechanism that supressed wages while the government outsourced inflation mechanism to the Fed. Protectionism will be firm policy by 2016 alongside the growing police state. Welcome to the new Soviet Union, the sequel. Most disheartening.

Many of us alive won't see America as it once was, an imperfect Republic but able to claim the moral high ground. Now the need to have eyes in the back of ones head to deal with the criminals above and at street level.

Lednbrass's picture

The point is that you undercut yourself, but by all means proceed as you please. If you state that the US poor are in the top 1/3 of the globe or whatever thats one thing particularly if you can come up with real stats to back it up.  This isnt Yahoo, there are sharp people in this place and you quite rightly are going to draw fire for a claim like that.  Even the flat out lefty twits are generally brighter then the average drooling DKos hack. Accuracy matters, and yes it makes a difference.

Do what you want, but expect criticism for sloppy claims. Hell, its a fight club themed financial.economic site- if you like taking shots from multiple directions it certainly isnt any skin off my nose.

JW n FL's picture



But this is a Capitalist Country.. if we can’t work to get ahead we have to steal it from the upper class who doesn’t work and passes it down generation after generation..

in the spirit of being an American Capitalist Entrepreneur! We are going to earn our way to the top the same way the owners of the FED did!

We are going to Kill the Class above us for it!

Is that not a fair description of all the ism’s?




Commieism.. (LOL!)

What’s up!

I don’t believe in ism’s..


Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

Basically you are opposite imbecile.

Anything you post the opposite is generally the truth.

Oh but two cabbies in an alley in Newark said it is so and here is the link!!!!

Special kind of stupid imbecile, way beyond the woe is me but I live like fucking royalty common imbecile currently inhabiting

JW n FL's picture



really.. the opposite?

becuase two cabbies said so?

would you like to take the time to prove your point or are you going to be sharing your feelings some more?

please.. we ALL! want to know how you feel inside.. does it hurt? are you numb from all of the wrong that surrounds you.

PLEASE! the suspense is killing me!


Tell me!

I will do anything you want..

if you just share your feelings.


I am begging you!


I dont think I will be able to go on without knowing about all of your feelings! 

dont leave me this way, it's cruel!

I would never treat you this way!


Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

You're an imbecile who if forced to actually make a consequential decision in life would be balled up in the fetal position in a gutter.

Couldn't discern fact from fiction if given the ft and c.

Oh but some triple agent speaking camaroon said it must be so therefore it is!

BigDuke6's picture


Your postings are the painful bit.

Not that i read them but i would hazard a guess u r a underachieving rich kid who talks nice but then, when the chips are down, behaves like a total wanker and pervert.  Bateman....

JW n FL's picture



A Rabbi discussing the Jewish History sounded Kosher to me..

as for the Jews being Management.. for the Ruling Class..

I am full on anti-Blue Blood! Baby!!

dont get my funnin mistaken for realz thou!'s picture

Except you and most of the first world are in the top 1% globally as half the world exists on less than $2/day,


So half of the world is in the top 1%? How the hell does that work?

Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

Try googling normal distribution and entering $2 as an average.

Just can't be so special kind of stupid without practicing.'s picture

The population of the "first world" exceeds 1% of world population. I'll forgive you as your total number of fingers and toes is inadequate to perform the difficult mathematics involved in such a calculation.

NFX's picture

I have it good sources that Obama donated his heart to Cheny....

nmewn's picture

That assumes he was born with one ;-)

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

He was, but it is mechanical and full of sand.

Money 4 Nothing's picture

Actually, Satan asked for his old heart back. Cheney had to go get another one. 

Yen Cross's picture

 I'm dis- qualified.  M-4N. Baramundi Break.

                                                                 No dis Respect. Just Hungary>  Stay sharp tomorow. Monday Open. The usd sold off late into the Friday close.

Tic tock's picture

people are forced to act as if they are slaves, through force, through tyranny - no one is such a thing as a slave. eurasia, this might surprise some, but indentured servitude is economic, not psychological.\ This Slave Labour, as afar as I can tell, this concept of slavery is peculiar and a very deep sickness. . 

Yen Cross's picture

  Conditioning is amazing, until everyone gets HUNGRY!  Tic- Toc?

   The veneer is  thinning!

Father Lucifer's picture



There will be a huge future war to settle the imbalance. There always is.

Yen Cross's picture

 Your perception of outcomes and " reality" , are two different things.  I'll go large when it's time, though!

Pitchman's picture

America's "free market capitalism" is prefaced on free markets.  Free markets are dependent on competition.  We do not have free markets and those who have been set as examples of capitalist did not and do not believe in free markets. 

“Competition is a sin.” – John D. Rockefeller 

Once established they prefer to collude with government to create monopolies at the exclusion of competition thus; profit reducing free markets and establish a system of rent extraction.  The system is not focused on extracting rent just from their employees but from society as a whole.

Today there is no free market capitalism.  Therefore to argue that it is to blame is a straw man and an obfuscation of the truth. 

The collusion of government and corporate interest is Fascism.  While American's find it nearly impossible to admit it, it is time we label it for what it is.

This collusion of corporate interest, oligarchs and government interest concentrates power, which in working against free market competition also sets itself above the law.

 “Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.” – Thomas Jefferson

In 1854 a small village newspaperman, Colonel Charles V. De Land wrote; "This is not a question of party loyalty, but a great fundamental principle of freedom, justice and humanity, a tenet of truth, law and legal right which is sought to be tampered with, and down-trod." From these simple words people were united, a party was formed and after a great tumult, slavery was brought to an end.  The words ring true to our patriotic duty today.

“The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.” – Thomas Jefferson


In regard to the one percent and their belief they are above the law.

"In spite of the Explosion in Financial Fraud from the mid 2000's, continuing unabated to this day, the number of Criminal Financial Institution Fraud Prosecutions under the Obama Administration is the lowest in 20 years....

If you remember the story of Animal Farm; the pigs exploit the other animals shamelessly, breaking all the rules that they had established after the Rebellion.  And so it goes.

Back in the day Jerry "Kill the pigs" Rubin's good friend Abbie Hoffman would say: "Steal This Country!"

More recently President Obama's Good Friend Jeremiah Wright might say God Damn these criminals.  His other "Good Buddy" Bill Ayers might say: These are criminals at large; taunting the public who will hunt them down like the dogs that they are... Lamp post provided by local communities nationwide, Cordage available at fine retailers everywhere, Final Justice; Priceless.

Street Justice Is Coming To Wall Street...

- The Face of Financial Terrorism Attacks Marines Free Speech

Visit: Inflection Point

newengland's picture

pitchman, excellent comment and summary of the current predicament. The main article is interesting, but ineffectual. If knowing history alone was useful, then the West would not now be debt slaves. It is more useful to know who is plotting this New Feudalism, this new fascism. It's name is the Trilateral Commission, led by David Rockefeller and Britain's Rothschild banking family.

The Trilateral Commission is progressing well with its decades old plan to instal a 'new world order', led by the globalist central bank cartel who appoint 'technocrats' in the upper echelons of government, law, academia and media.That's why we see that the smiley career politicians talk a lot, and do little to answer the real problems faced by the majority; the majority who are to be mere units of production, labouring for the elite.

The Trilateral Commission...the men behind the mask of every political player and bureaucrat. They are anti-democratic, anti-competition, anti-everything that is of any good for ordinary people because they seek rule by the elite, appointed by them. They like it when the little people argue among themselves over class, color or creed. Divide and rule is their useful tactic. Privatising their profits and socialising their losses via bankster bailouts is their specialty.

End the Fed.

goforgin's picture

This article is indeed unnerving. I would venture that the chart showing the value of slaves in the South should put to rest 'academic discussions' of the causes of the Civil War--southern white man's greed.


This is the language of plutocratic capitalism, a brutal system totally incompatible with democracy and antithetical to republican government and civilization. It is the language of misery, and misery is what “the 1 percent” is promising “the 99 percent” for years to come, in ever-greater doses.

This is a perfect analogy, voluntary wage slavery. Andrew Jackson was perhaps the most enlightened US President, he warned against this.



nmewn's picture

I would venture to say you're a statist shill.

dogbreath's picture

it is our newest troll

Dburn's picture

Nice article. Makes me think that the Civil war was just like the Revolutionary war as in white rich guys against richer white guys.  Perhaps the North was finding that owning slaves was untenable, felt threatened by the free labor in the south  despite the agrarian society represented by the south. How long would it be before they became the 19th century China. The difference being they just needed to feed their work force. As the industrial revolution made the robber barons rich. Think how poor they would have been if they were competing with the southern states free labor that not only  represented lower input costs but the slaves were highly valuable like a manufacturing robot that multiplied on it's own aka skynet.

Sort of like the stock splits in the era.

Each war had a theme that the working class could rally around. But the main theme was pretty much what we see today, protecting the vital interests of rich white guys.

AnAnonymous's picture

Makes me think that the Civil war was just like the Revolutionary war as in white rich guys against richer white guys.


It was class warfare, an aspiring middle class taking on the upper class.

US citizenism promotes class warfare.

Errol's picture

Dburn, in his two most recent posts tracing the US transition to an empire, Greer brilliantly analyses the real issues between the Union and the Confederacy.  In brief, the Southern US was behaving more like a colony of Great Brittain, which industrialists in the North found deprived them of the opportunity to be the ones pumping wealth out of the South.

Yen Cross's picture

 AKA " Perpetual Servitude" Ilene.   Again, thanks for the indoctrination./sarc

R_Soles's picture

well, I'm free. Free to work 100% of the time for 50% of what I charge with the other 50% as a royalty to my owner-the gov't/ Then everytime I buy anything I hand over more in sales tax, property tax and booze/gas tax. In Britain they (KINGS) called it a tithe but a taxunder any other name.... The peasants had to work the fields to pay the rent and now we work at declining wage schmuch jobs to pay the mortgage to the 1% ( aristocacy). Only difference is now we are told how good we have it in the self appointed "best country" on earth. Shit on that

dogbreath's picture

R.....       I've been reading some stuff about common law that Chumba linked a little while ago.  your post triggered somthing.   Though I haven't completely wrapped my head around ( new to me ) reading articles about law, common or natural law as opposed to statute law,  and maybe I have this wrong but "you"  the person or the corporation have to contract with whatever agency to be ruled by the statutes.  In chumba's link at least in some states you can deregister under the legislation wherby you originally registrered your  estate as " smiths farm"  allowing the state to tax you.  I am trying to figure this stuff out in canada.  

Tyler:  I think that the topic of Common Law and Natural Law will be of interest to the ZH community and would welome further articles on the subject.   The subject is a direct offshoot of the foreclosure fraud debacle.  In essense entities are foreclosing on properties where title has not ben transfered at the county level and there seems to be huge power at this level to the estate owner.    

lasvegaspersona's picture

The eXiled seems to be a tad lefty to me. Anti Cato, anti gun....flunks my litmus test in 2 easy moves. Nothing wrong with different points of view but sometimes I can only take so much of that with a liberal bent. 

Yes slavery was wrong but the article is the one that conjurs the image of humans as meat. The referenced study merely uses the term 'rent' which is a common economic term. As a business owner I too look at the number of FTEs I have. I actually have more than I need but I have found a beneficial use for the excess....and when I retire I'll harvest their organs and make myself a nice little bonus...

rapier's picture

The slave market was obviously in a bubble.  Remember this value of the stock of slaves was  based upon what was probably a small amount of transactions, especailly near the end.  We can assume that credit played a role allowing prices to bubble up and up.  The inflated assets begetting the ability to borrow and so on. We can suppose the value of slaves far outstripped their ability to actually return a profit at those inflated prices.  The market became specuative driven in large part by ideology. Included in the slave ideology was the idea that slavery would be extened to all US territories and then south thought Mexico, Central America and into South America.  In other words the market would expand thus supplying a rational for the soaring prices.  The capitalization and then inflation and financialization of slave assets was certainly a significant driver in the politics of the South.  As the wealthy enlisted politicians to their cause. 

Golden monkey's picture

Sorry to see you have become a potential threat to the US economy, Phil.

See you at the FEMA after the rigged election.

Walt D.'s picture

Oh my God, Al Gore's hockey stick again! The civil war was fought to fight global warming.

Lednbrass's picture

Yeah, the South only seceded because of slaves.  What a dumbass.

Wonder what excuse will be used when history repeats?

hootowl's picture

This presentation is totally bogus.  There were many reasons for the civil war.  The appreciation of the "slave stock", in most cases actually, it was "depreciation" of the "slave stock" because of the mechanization of farming, if it was to be considered at all, was NOT one of them.  The South was being economically bludgeoned by the Northern control of the Congress, who were bought and paid for by the "Sweat Shop" owners and child labor exploiters in the Yankee north.

If the author was really conversant with his subject, he would have also found that the Bank of England and the European Rothschilds (Redundant, I know), still had designs on regaining control of the "Colonies" by re-instituting control over the creation of the American money supply.  To make a long story short, they finally succeeded by foisting "The Creature From Jeckyll Island" upon the American People through the machiavellian machinations of the New York Banking Oligarchs who surreptitiously moved the so-called Federal Reserve Act through a depleted Congress during the Christmas break of 1913.  The mendacious Oligarchical puppet, Woodrow Wilson signed the evil work into law as the crowning achievement of his overall tyrannical and freedom destroying career in politics.....a real evil sonofabitch whose evil work is culminating today in the impending collapse of the American Dream.


AnAnonymous's picture

The appreciation of the "slave stock", in most cases actually, it was "depreciation" of the "slave stock"


US citizenism power, denial of the most obvious.

Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

Is LSD mandatory around here?

Yea a whole lot of bludgeoning going on!

Lincoln went to war over southern tax revenues is bludgeoning the truth plenty.


max2205's picture

I think I shorted slaves in my prior life. Looks like AAPL

JW n FL's picture



Money Changer Worshipers!

nikku's picture

Please don't use the term "Capitalism" to describe the "Free Enterprise System." Capitalism (a term coined by Carl Marx) + Slavery IS NOT  a "Free Enterprise System." You can read and re-read much of the comments here and see the twisted nature of history. But any system that takes away ANYONE's freedom--including the socialism that ilene's posts consistently lean towards--is not what our flawed but still founding fathers intended. The existence of slavery was supposed to be phased out over time. Like almost all politicians, they voted on compromise to get things "rolling." Only one politician I know who would have voted "no" regardless of his color.


Coldfire's picture

Seconded. I will always be grateful to Ames for skewering - and indelibly naming - The Squid and also for the incomparable eXile (who could forget the fantastic Whore-R stories) but this theory around the War of Secession is far-fetched.

JW n FL's picture



You can always Judge a Man buy how often or quickly he would punch a Woman in the Face.

Any man that Punches a Woman in the Face..

Or Blames a Woman for Having Feelings that a Woman would have is not only not so bright.. but a coward as well.

So.. Yes.. I am saying both of you are cowards.. just to be really fucking clear given your overt stupidity that you so eagerly share with the world!

Ilene wants men to get along with and play nice with other men.. for the safety and security of the World..

She is nesting and the whole world is her nest..

It is a Lovely View.. to want Love and Peace to Reign.

And any man who doesn’t understand this about women.. married the wrong woman or has in fact ignored their wife for the entire marriage.

either way.. sounds like fucking stupid to me!


Red Heeler's picture

"Ilene wants men to get along with and play nice with other men"

Maybe Hillary can bring them all together.

Lumberjack's picture



Just a day after Angus King announced he was divesting his stake in his wind energy company, a Congressional Oversight Committee has called into question the basis for a $102 million loan guarantee granted to King’s Record Hill Wind project.
The U.S House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform yesterday released an extensive report on questionable funding for projects authorized through the U.S. Department of Energy. The report, titled “The Department of Energy’s Disastrous Management of Loan Guarantee Programs”, reveals that the Record Hill project received a loan guarantee based on “questionable reasoning” by King’s company.
From the report:
“After conducting a substantial review of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan guarantee program, it is clear that the significant losses absorbed by taxpayers as a result of Solyndra’s collapse is just the beginning. The investigation conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has uncovered numerous examples of dysfunction, negligence and mismanagement by DOE officials, raising troubling questions about the leadership at DOE and how it has administered its loan guarantee programs.”
The report shows that the Department of Energy (DOE) “approve[d] Record Hill Wind’s $102 million loan guarantee project as “innovative,” despite the project using commercial technology. DOE knew that the Record Hill project did not use significantly innovative technology.”
“the Record Hill Wind project attempted to categorize minor modifications to existing commercial technology as “innovativeness.” DOE eventually agreed with Record Hill Wind’s questionable reasoning”




Angus King backs Obama for re-election, but that doesn’t mean he’d caucus with Democrats

Let me explain a little here. King was an attorney and had past ties to the energy sector in Virginia. The law firm he was associated with also specializes in RICO law.

While Governor, King used his position as governor to pick the winners, namely himself and stave off the competition until his second term was up.

After his term in office, King formed his own wind company that has received federal money (much like First Wind (which employs his son) as well as his PUC Commisioner (Kurt Adams) who got stock and a job at First Wind while he was a sitting member of the PUC.

There also were a lot of stay behind's in the next administration that moved Kings' efforts forward. Then guess what... He decided to get into the wind business

While King was reaping the rewards of his efforts, the next administration really got things rolling for them...

So much so that Governor Baldacci stated that when his term was up he would be working for the wind industry... but then changed his mind after leaving office.

Now who is Jay Cashman? His other company specializing in dredging just got a sweet contract cleaning up the PCB mess left by GE in the Hudson river and is gearing up to do work on the proposed offshore wind projects. (King is a big promoter of that folly).

We all know from my posting here that GE got stimulus money and then cancelled it's offshore efforts but never returned the money.

We also know that Jack Immelt, CEO of GE is also Obama's job czar. 

There is much more, but now you know why Angus King supports Obama.