Thomas Frank: America In The Age Of Hypocrisy, Hubris, And Greed

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Jesse's Cafe Americain blog,

In 2012 I said that such unsustainable social arrangements as we have now are backed by force and fraud. And as the fraud loses its power over time, force must increase, until there is a correction of the system in genuine reform, or an eventual reset.

"The whole world wants to know about what the hell is happening with us. So let's talk about it. I live in Washington now, and the people I live among have no idea how people live here in the Midwest, not the faintest idea...


The last couple of years here in America have been a time of brisk prosperity according to official measurements, with unemployment down and the stock market up.


For Americans who work for a living however, nothing ever seems to improve. Wages do not grow, median household income is still well below where it was in 2007. Economists have a way of measuring this, they call it the 'labor share of the Gross National Product' as opposed to the share taken by stockholders. The labor share of Gross National Product' hit its lowest point since records were started in 2011, and then it stayed there right for the next couple of years.


In the fall of 2014, with the stock market hitting an all time high, a poll showed that nearly 3/4 of the American public believed that the economy was still in recession, because for them it was.


There was time when average Americans could be counted upon to know correctly whether the country was going up or down, because in those days when America prospered, the American people prospered as well. These days things are different.


Let's look at it in a statistical sense. If you look at it from the middle of the 1930's (the Depression) up until the year 1980, the lower 90 percent of the population of this country, what you might call the American people, that group took home 70 percent of the growth in the country's income. If you look at the same numbers from 1997 up until now, from the height of the great Dot Com bubble up to the present, you will find that this same group, the American people, pocketed none of this country's income growth at all.


Our share of these great good times was zero, folks. The upper ten percent of the population, by which we mean our country's financiers and managers and professionals, consumed the entire thing. To be a young person in America these days is to understand instinctively the downward slope that so many of us are on."


Thomas Frank, Kansas City Missouri, 6 April 2017

What shall we blame for the manner in which our economic system has gone wrong? Or will any with a public podium even admit it has gone wrong? After all, what is truth?

Is it a problem of 'fakes news sites' running contrary opinions to the established narrative?

Is it the failure of working people to rise to the occasion and elevate the 'lesser of two evils' to power so that she might further enrich herself and her supporters, whose disappointment and outrage at a missed payday knows no bounds?

Is it the impersonal forces of technology, and trade, and all of the superficially structured but high sounding economic laws that have served to promote almost every abuse of the public good that has been suffered for the past thirty years?

Or perhaps it is time for people of conscience to stop standing idly by while a powerful few are serving themselves the most of our gains, at great cost to others, and to break the silence about where we have gone wrong, and what is needed to be done to correct it.

"And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak.  We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak."


-Martin Luther King, 4 April 1967


"The problem of the last three decades is not the 'vicissitudes of the marketplace,' but rather deliberate actions by the government to redistribute income from the rest of us to the one percent. This pattern of government action shows up in all areas of government policy."


-Dean Baker


"When the modern corporation acquires power over markets, power in the community, power over the state and power over belief, it is a political instrument, different in degree but not in kind from the state itself. To hold otherwise — to deny the political character of the modern corporation — is not merely to avoid the reality. It is to disguise the reality. The victims of that disguise are those we instruct in error."


-John Kenneth Galbraith

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Grandad Grumps's picture

America controlled by demons!

whoflungdung's picture

One of them Jamie "Demon" of J.P.Morgan perhaps?

Ramesees's picture

What's the Matter with Thomas Frank?

Oh, right, he's a 105-110 IQ shithead that thinks he knows what's best for you. Just like every other Democrat.

Tapeworm's picture

Perhaps he did get 108 on his IQ test.

 This clown is so wretchingly conventional that I can only compare him to the worst car I have ever had; that being a 1979 Ford LTD with 351 Windsor. Sorry, I have to make some idiotic comparisons to get past the scheiss that tries to pass as intelligentsia.

 If the commie rat demsoc Improvers of the Manchester Guardian hire dips like this they deserve what has happened to all USA newspapers.

 I do not recall any newsrag ever in the USA to demand enforcement of USC15 against the medical racketeering. They'd rather lose 85% of readers so that they can run drug advertising to their last subscribers being the old farts. I am old too but I know of no one that is more interested in the condition of the young.


Future Jim's picture

Excerpt from Trump Confirms He Is NWO:

" ... the NWO is working feverishly to take down the American people and will do so with as much prejudice as is necessary to realize their New World Order.

The NWO has already neutralized the peoples of other countries, and now, the American people are the last thing standing in their way because Americans ... well ... those who appreciate America's founding principles ... are the best armed and least friendly towards the NWO agenda.

The NWO doesn't want to damage America any more than necessary because America is the goose that laid the golden egg ... "

SgtShaftoe's picture

Because of apathetic lazy assholes. If the honest people would stand up for integrity and liberty the world would change overnight.

SubjectivObject's picture

Satire is not news.

Satire is not fake.

The central planners's picture

If its satire then its not fun, Thank you!!

LetThemEatRand's picture

If someone had told me in 2012 that in early 2017 we'd be on the verge of invading North Korea, that China was amassing 150,000 troops on the NK border after a meeting with the American President, that America was lobbing cruise missiles into a Russian ally state that had Russian troops on the ground when it happened, and that all of these things would be occurring at once and over the span of a few weeks, I would have assumed McCain ran again and won.

serotonindumptruck's picture

You'd have been closer to the truth.

This is so fucking terrifying, all I can do is laugh.

Chupacabra-322's picture

Haven't decided yet if it's more terrifying or Bizzare.

I've come to the conclusion, that we're are Governed by Children & Psychopaths.

And, these Psychopaths Goals are to get everyone, or at least most of us Killed.

Syria proved that. North Korea is personifying it.

The open in your Face Criminality & absolutel complete Tyrannical Lawlessness is reigning Pure Evil HELL on Earth.

serotonindumptruck's picture

There are some theories circulating on the interwebz. Perhaps you've heard of some?

The divide and conquer, left-right, democrat-republican wars are definitely coming once the dollar collapses.

The economy will most certainly collapse, "slowly, and then suddenly" according to some famous author.

When that event occurs, the global population will be halved within a few months, as starvation establishes itself in any metropolitan area that is unable to maintain self-sufficiency.

Neighbor against neighbor wars will be commonplace.

Prepare yourselves to kill without hesitation, without conscience. Your life or theirs.

It is unlikely that the elite would prefer this type of de-population scheme, as they would not reasonably survive such scenarios. Nor is it reasonable to presume that the elite would prefer global thermonuclear destruction, as this would result in the probable meltdown of over 450 nuclear power plants located around the world, thus destroying virtually ALL life on the planet.

And yet, they must somehow maintain and ensure the continuance of their lifestyles of luxury, governance, influence, and superiority over Planet Earth's inhabitants.

That is the ultimate question.

There are some who claim that "the elite" are genetically predisposed to psychopathy, which might entail homocidal/suicidal tendencies, and if that is the case, then we really have nothing to live for as species.

Homo sapiens is flawed, and deserves extinction.

All_Your_Base's picture

Alas it is a reality show. Bill Hicks said it was just a ride. Think three groups: ignorant and apathetic (word-thinking majority), decent and courageous (isolated and under attack), clever and amoral (small minority; no credit limit...).

If individuals in the second group cannot learn to cooperate with one another, then the third will despotically reign over all with the support of the first

Decent and courageous individuals must to learn to cooperate despite being under attack from both sides

Time to spend on the first and third groups this is not

Archibald Buttle's picture

"If individuals in the second group cannot learn to cooperate with one another, then the third will despotically reign over all with the support of the first"

this is an important message. and one that is currently a real bitch to get through to a lot of people, many of whom are in the second group already and working against one another. there comes a time when the enemy of your enemy, while not a friend, becomes a necessary ally against the common foe.

Giant Meteor's picture

12 minutes into the video, will finish it tonight. As with the above tells us what we, most all of us, already know. 

Cannot be overstated, how extremely fucked this nation is, and unfortunately, as was made clear in 2008, all daisy chained linked together on a global basis. No coincidences ... none.

No surprise either UMKC is where Bill Black. Michael Hudson hail from, relentless in their commentary regarding the Banker / Wallstreet Financialization / Corporatized model and coup, which obviously came to a head in 2007- 2008. Of course we live in a fee based,"rentier" economy, which for obvious reasons, resistance of the same gets no major play or traction whatsoever .. until of course the statement, and election of "Trump" based upon the correct rhetoric, at the right time (conditions) in history.


The money men, neocons, deep staters, are firmly in charge. 

For whom real benefit flow's, on massive scale, on the back of what is left of working class citizens, via corporate and vested government collusion and theft, with rights of the many (masses) offended and breached at every turn by degree.

A death by a thousand cuts...

If one were to honestly evaluate the similarities (as example) in the campaign rhetoric between B. Sanders  - D.J. Trump, both suggested"outsiders" of the political "norms". it was easy to spot the similar disatisfactions and complaints registered from the citizen boosters of both. The difference laid in proposed solutions, or in many cases no solutions offered at all, but only "faith" in empty and vacuous rhetoric so familiar in every political campaign.

The swamp is much too deep,

The working men and women, the so called "middle class" , or those aspiring to reach the so called middle class .. have been systemically, methodically bent over in a sham system that resembles more slavery than the freedoms the "founders" once elaborated, even in their own time of upheaval and moral questions regarding free man and slave.

Clinton et al, , and all the rest, represented status quo interests. Neocon's and Neo-libersls as far as the eye could see, who incessantly push the notion, TINA ..

The people, massively sold out through various means and schemes, scheming of both political "parties" who write Orwellian named "laws" has proven itself time and time again, these "parties" increasingly were bereft of any real, meaningful or fresh ideals or any notions of basic fairness. It has long been a shit show of lies, hubris and sell out politicians, whom simply acted in their own self interest, and are in place to do the bidding of the owners of corporate USA, a.k.a. money changers .., the deceivers, the lie.

Now, not 100 days in, people again speculate, on the reasons they've been sold out one more time .

There is no political solution.

There is only resistance, on a deeply personal level, and also to effect whatever immediate sphere of influence one may possess, if any at all. The trouble it seems, many folks are keenly aware of the problem (s) we face but possess no means or realistic possibilities for finding solution, to the myriad trouble, and as mentioned, solutions that obviously will not come from the moral vacuum of politics nor politiciams in this new dark age .. of oligopoly, a narrow system of rackets, fully supported by the policies of central banks, and complicit, friendly governments who collude in the arrangement ..



All_Your_Base's picture

"There is only resistance, on a deeply personal level, and also to effect whatever immediate sphere of influence one may possess, if any at all. "

The first time I read it sadly. The second time I read it proudly. The third time I read it...I felt the sphere! Bravo

No_More's picture

I prefer to call it slacking (it's a generational epithet) but you can call it shrugging off or resisting or whatever.

Simply not worth a lot of effort to keep the giant crazy thing going. Put that effort into doing your own thing (probably also not long term sustainable but a lot more pleasing).

Archibald Buttle's picture

it is a shame, a bigly shame, that your campaign this past november was not a success.

your last paragraph summed things up nicely. and, sadly, makes a poor t-shirt, bumper sticker and won't fit in a tweet. and, thus, 99% of the people that could learn something from it will never encounter anything resembling it in their day to day lives.

depressing, yes, but does remind me of the old saw about not having to be faster than the bear...

Rjh's picture

Why not assume Hillary won? Or Jeb? Or Obama got his third term like all you faggot libertarians kept saying was going to happen for the past 5 years? Are you claiming there's a difference with what happens depending on who gets elected? It's all a big planned, ever-changing orchestration, you libertarian moron. Give up.

What's so wrong with the United States anyway? There are always elites in every country and at every point throughout history. Sure, shit could be better, but that's always fucking true. The United States is a pretty fucking amazing place to live, even though I'm sure that's pretty hard to see through your clouded, doom-and-gloom eyes. Grow up, you fucking whiner. I sure as fuck hope your buttboy Rand gets elected in the next 20 years, and you're still alive to whine and cry about how hurt you are that he let you down.

acetinker's picture

Ya' know Rand, you and I used to battle on these pages with much fury.  Remember?

Something has changed.  Maybe it's you, maybe it's me, maybe it's both of us.  I dunno.

All I know is that I no longer feel an urgent need to rebuke your words- I'm gonna say that's a good thing.

Verily, objectivism is only applicable in a fairly homogenous society with shared values and morality.  To be fair to (Ayn) Rand, this was the US in 1957, no?  The seeds of multiculturalism had already been sown by then, but hadn't yet sprouted.

The sprouts broke ground with Ted Kennedy's Immigration and Naturalization Act in 1965.  I personally consider Teddy a traitor to this nation... but that's just me.

The fruit of those sprouts are more than evident in 2017.  They are: Political Correctness and Identity Politics.

These ideas killed objectivity, and FWIW, I think they killed America, too.

SixIsNinE's picture

"The whole world wants to know about what the hell is happening with us.

horseshit - people in Africa, Asia, India, S. America, etc. do not care about USA and most of their working class couldn't find the USA on a map.

again, an over exaggerated sense of importance of the americancitizenism....

and 99% of them have NO idea where Kansas it.

SubjectivObject's picture

Oh yeah?

What state is Kansas City in then??

conraddobler's picture

Depends on which Kansas City you're talking about there are two.


Offthebeach's picture

But...but...lefties since the Wilson administration,  at least, have been saying if we give up rights, liberties, wealth and power, they being the anointed will bring us to paradise, as they would never be corrupt, infallible,  nor co-opted. 


Tapeworm's picture

This asterisk pundit from DC that goes back home only to hawk his pedestrian piffle that is indistinguishable from the rest of those assholes.

 Trump got elected by the dopes that think that there will be relief from their sodomization by the unearned monied class which has about zero notable members of the hard core liberty worshipers.

 This guy is as conventional as it gets.

 I have a small business that makes world beating stuff. My employees deserve raises commensurate with their quite real and tangible contribution to the general well being. Our rotting industrial city is controlled by slavering idiots such as Mister Franks.-- You know the type- the improvers. The "Improvers" have driven out the white guys that held this dump together. I am not a racialist as I try to treat all equally. In our standard test battery for application for employment, a black guy scored the highest of hundreds. I hired him on the spot and set him up for further education as he was a fine fellow anyway. He quit to trry to put together a marching band for the black kids of the city.

 I watched with some couriosity and funding at a low level as that was all that I could spare. The chilluns just didn't seem to take to the easy discipline and gentle hand of their tutor. They had been taught by media and asshole "liberals" that Honky is to be distrusted. Gotta have that hatred cooked up by the usual suspects.

 That was in the late 1970's. I would not trust any of them to work in my place now. A small box of gages that cost me 2800.00 could walk off and get sold for a quick ten dollars.Train the rats to demand entitlement and you will get your desired racial hatreds. Nah, it would have worked out if there was no goomint at all.

 Trump got elected by slobs like me that held out the silly and impossible notion that the maggot had some relation to his rhetoric. (Forgive me, he is no rhetorician as none have been since the founders and for a little while until 1789. They read speeches prepared by their hired hands. The only time that I would watch one of the latter day peckerfaces was if their Tele-Prompter took a dump. Remember just how hard the Detroit police worked to recover O'Bama's Telepromters when some truly amateur thieves grabbed them at the Detroit airfield? The Nobel Peace Prize winner was utterly drowning without his prepared speeches.

 I hate goomint and all of the piles of shit that use it to enrich themselves at the producers expense.

 Trump lied about everything just as all of the usurpers do.

 Try some freedom for a welcome change? Anyone?

Casey Jones's picture

The whole "fake news" meme is yet another purposeful attempt to muddy the waters. It's working brilliantly. The facts are all around us to discover and verify yet most people can't hear the signal for the noise.

gregga777's picture

President Jared Kushner was elected to continue the rackets being run by the Goldman Sachs Feral Reserve System and the Criminal Crony Capitalist CONporations.  Voting is a fool's errand.  The only choice on any election ballot is between a LYING Criminal Dimmo-Marxist Party political parasite or a LYING Criminal Repussican Party political parasite.  It has taken less than 90 days for President Kushner to repudiate his entire campaign platform.  

MAGA: Make Apartheid (Israel) Great Again!

Deep Snorkeler's picture

In Hawaii,

We live on a fecal shoreline,

In a Sea of Plastic Debris.

What comes for us,

Comes for thee.


The increasing worldwide shark attacks are an omen.


Stan Smith's picture

He's right there's a problem.   What he wont admit to that he's likely a part of the problem.

Bay Area Guy's picture

Someone above said it correctly.  The facts are all around.  What it takes is a will to look objectively at the facts and make up your own mind.  Sadly, I'd estiamte that 90% of the people in this country can not and will not do the work needed to make up their own minds based on available facts.  They'll either blindly accept the word of whatever news agency fits their preconceived notion of life or they will throw up their hands and say it's impossible, meaning it's too much work and they'd rather watch the NBA playoffs.

The problem is not the fake news.  The problem is the stupidity of the masses that don't even realize it's fake.

Twee Surgeon's picture

Frank, another Cretin that thinks he knows what is going on but manages to remain, after decades of research, absolutely clueless.

Beyond belief.

samsara's picture

"“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”

Frank Zappa

spanish inquisition's picture

Guess we are getting close to the executive order that will shut down "fake" news.......

Thebighouse's picture

Liars without morals is what took us here...and it really really began in earnest with those pillars of honesty....the Clintons !

And in truth, George the first bush set the ball rolling with the read my lips crapper of a lie.

Obama cemented the use of social media, surveillence and broadcast media to foster his agenda to destroy an America in which he always felt second class because of his ethnicity.


If you listened to Dr ML King say...."I dream of the day when a man is judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character" and believed it,

and worked toward that end, barry obummer, this would be a much happier and productive society.  But the "content of character" isn't easy to develop and maintain.

You have to quit looking for easy ways need to TAKE need to need to BE a provider.  You HAVE to work.


They would be exterminated in China or Afganistan...or doused with acid...or hung or beheaded.  Their safe-space would be a shallow grave.

Instead we got 10 trillion of more debt, incessant regulations (which is modern day slavery), and race baiting and lies lies lies from a narcissistic half white guy.

He could have been a savior, but instead opted to be a character-less punk that chuck and jived.  We hoped for change.  We were short changed.

I think Trump has a plan...he may fatigue, but he is too big a MAN to dump his campaign promises.  I hope he is baiting all the media and neo-cons to find out where the head of the snake that has been destroying this country lies within the government.   He has NOT been a liar.  Which is why he was elected president.

The man deserves our prayers and not our ridicule.  He is truly our best hope.  He is a character, but he HAS character.

rejected's picture

Sure,,, all the latest from Trump is an agenda to fool the deep state, and MIC. Soon all promises will be kept and everything will be roses.

uh huh....

assistedliving's picture

Age of Hypocrisy, Hubris, And Greed?

Amerika is hypocrisy, hubris and greed.  

Add a dash of stupid

casfoto's picture

What Frank says is true. Those people that do not travel and or do not converse with others from other areas of the US have no idea. There has been a steady downward fall of the country. The malls are looking rough. Stores are closing all over. Inflation is high and if you can not see that then you are not awake. Look at the price of cars and or trucks..the prices have gone up thousands in just the few years as our loaning institutions give credit for 7-8 or however many years they can stand. People do not have descrecinary income. This is not a democratic and or republican issue. It is our countries issue. No one wants to build the center as if we live in two different countries. If we do not build center then it is over. The media has helped to destroy center and they are not interested in helping one bit. We need to start to look earnestly at people that will not be shouted down once they speak the truth. We are on the edge of 1984.

Hypocricy is correct. When I hear this absurd bullshit about Russia twisting the elections here I just can not believe that anyone here can say that with a straight face. We have screwed with South America, France, England, Germany etc etc. We have moved people around in Iraq, Iran, Syria etc...and Syria is a perfect example. WE ARE IN SYRIA FOR A REGIME CHANGE> IS THAT NOT INTERFERENCE? IS THAT NOT STINKING HYPOCRICY???

FlKeysFisherman's picture

"History is replete with the lesson that a country in which the Jews get the upper hand is in danger."

--Joseph Sobran--

ElTerco's picture

"Or perhaps it is time for people of conscience to stop standing idly by while a powerful few are serving themselves the most of our gains, at great cost to others, and to break the silence about where we have gone wrong, and what is needed to be done to correct it."

Talk is cheap. Unfortunately, the only way to break this monopoly is for the lower 90% to stop working. Actually, it doesn't have to be the entire lower 90% that walk away, just the competent ones which comprise a markedly smaller number.

Atlas needs to Shrug.

animalogic's picture

The "problem is getting the democratic party to embrace these issues" -- ie issues like reinductrialisation, universal heath care etc. We have to "drag them [Dem's] kicking & screaming to victory". Frank, like many can diagnose the disease but not the cure. Why can he not see that BOTH parties are terminal? That both are so corrupt that no "reform is possible? " Why ? Because both parties are intrinsically linked to the 1% -- to change, to become a party of the 99% would be simply to self destruct, to turn itself inside out, to allow its very organs to fall out as chuncks of offal onto the floor. Its ridiculous. Bernie was a signal that it does not matter HOW popular a non-neoliberal is, the party will destroy him by what ever means, by any dirty trick they can think of.

DelusionsCrowded's picture

Blame Gordon Geko and the 'American spirit' of averice, gangsterism and crookery and prostitution of self delusional self promotion and self deception . The US got rich by robbing Europe of brains  in two WW and slugging them with an Arms bill and now the Giant Ponzie scheme needs a new victum to feed its evil furnace.


I saw the movie  series House of Cards the other week .Strange how the Clintons and Bushes and Obamas (28 years) seems to mirror the reality of what has happened to the US gov .

Now the USA has a 'Reality' TV host as Pres . Well I suppose thats better that a coke tooting sodomist or the sex addicted pederist .


The false flag of Freedom !





mog's picture

The merging of the corporate with the political is a fascist state....
Yep - the USA is fascist.
Backed up by militurised police at home and the evil of NATO, the flouting of international law, bullying and war crimes internationally.
The USA is fascist.
Time for the world to deal with it as they did nazi Germany.