The Problem Isn't Populism: The Problem Is The Status Quo Has Failed

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The top 5% who have benefited so immensely from the consolidation of wealth and power cannot confess the status quo has failed the bottom 95%.

The corporate/billionaires' media would have us believe that the crisis we face is populism, a code word for every ugly manifestation of fascism known to humanity. By invoking populism as the cause of our distemper, the mainstream media is implicitly suggesting that the problem is "bad people"--those whose own failings manifest in an attraction to fascism. If we can successfully marginalize these troubled troglodytes, then our problem, populism, would go away and the wonderfulness, equality and widespread prosperity of pre-populist America will be restored.

The problem isn't populism--the problem is the status quo has failed 95% of the populace. Life isn't wonderful, prosperous and filled with expansive equality except in the Protected Elite of the top 5% of technocrats, corporate executives, tenured academics, bureaucrats, financiers, bankers, lobbyists and wealthy (or soon to be wealthy) politicos.

The bottom 95% need a time machine to recover any semblance of prosperity. They need a time machine that goes back 20 years so they can buy a little bungalow on a postage-stamp lot for $150,000 on the Left and Right Coasts, because now the little bungalows cost $1 million and up.

Housing valuations have become so detached from what people earn that even the top 5% has trouble qualifying for a jumbo mortgage without the help of the Bank of Mom and Dad or the family trust fund.

The bottom 95% need a time machine to return to the days when college tuition and fees were semi-affordable--say, 30 years ago.

The bottom 95% also need a time machine to return to a time when they could afford healthcare insurance without government subsidies--a generation ago, or better yet, two generations ago.

In an age where phantom wealth sprouts like poisoned mushrooms from speculative bubbles, the bottom 95% need a time machine that goes back 8 years so they buy the S&P 500 at 670, or better yet, buy bitcoin for $1 or $10, just to make up the loss in the purchasing power of their wages.

Populism is the dismissive propaganda term that the media uses to distract us from the real cause of our problems: the total failure of the status quo, the corrupt, predatory, exploitive, inefficient, rentier pay-to-play-"democracy" cartel-state hierarchy that has failed the bottom 95%.

The natural response to this abandonment, betrayal and parade of propaganda is labeled populism as a means of blaming the victims: it's too bad you couldn't make it into the ranks of the Protected Elite, but that failure is yours, not the system's.

The Protected Elite thinks the system works just fine because it works so splendidly for them. The Protected Elite staff the corporate media, think tanks, philanthro-capitalist foundations, universities and the top ranks of the federal bureaucracies that issue statistics and regulations--in other words, all the organs of propaganda that are constantly assuring us we live in super-prosperous times and a vibrant democracy.

How many Americans from Dollar-Store America do you find in the editorial staff of the mainstream corporate media? The answer is of course near-zero. The bottom 95% have no representation in the mainstream media.

Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio recently proposed that there are two U.S. economies: the one inhabited by the bottom 60% that have gone nowhere and own very little in the way of assets, and the upper 40% that have some exposure to the gains created by central-bank inflated asset bubbles.

Ray Dalio: "This Is The Most Important Economic, Political And Social Issue Of Our Time".

If we examine household income and wealth, we have to conclude that only the top 20% have any exposure to the gains generated by asset bubbles, and only the top 10% have logged gains worthy of mention. And of the top 10%, only the top 5% have actually done OK. (see charts below)

And of the top 5%, only the top 1% have really done well for themselves. And of the top 1%, the big gains have flowed to the top 1/100th of 1%.

This is why I use the 95%/5% divide: only the top 5% inhabit the status quo is working great economy. The bottom 80% live in Dollar-Store America, and the "middle class" between 80% and 95% maintain the pretensions of doing well by shopping at Target and charging vacations on their credit cards.

Any group that doesn't accept the status quo is working great narrative soon finds a populist target drawn on their backs. In our pay-to-play-"democracy", wealth casts the only votes that count, and any movement that threatens this cozy arrangement of private wealth and state power/privilege is immediately attacked as the Monster Id of Society, i.e. populism.

The top 5% who have benefited so immensely from the consolidation of wealth and power cannot confess the status quo has failed the bottom 95%. And so they label anyone who refutes or resists their narrative a populist to marginalize and demonize any political threats to their cozy cartel-state concentration of wealth and power.

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HopefulCynical cheka Mon, 11/27/2017 - 16:43 Permalink

 CHS: And of the top 1%, the big gains have flowed to the top 1/100th of 1%.

The Count Nov 27, 2017 8:58 AM The globalists are fully in control. So obvious a cave man gets it.

 I've been using "the top 0.01%" to describe the people truly in charge and fucking everyone else's shit up for almost a full 20 years now. Mind you, I'm someone with no formal econ education, and at the time I first perceived this elite echelon of parasites in his manner, I'd never executed a single stock trade, or done more than wonder why anyone would want a Krugerrand.I guess what I'm saying is that it's only in the last few years that I've really started seeing the "top 0.01%" - and above - widely pointed to, both in articles and in comment sections. On one hand I'm glad; it means folks are waking up. The 0.01% and above have been "hiding in plain sight" behind the tired old saw of "the 1%." They can't hide there any more, and that's a very good development. OTOH, I'm wondering: what took everyone else so long? Because I agree with The Count; this is fairly obvious stuff. Maybe it's just that I grew up in an upper middle class household, and knew damn well that we were not what's meant on TV by "the rich"?Thoughts, my fellow ZHers?

In reply to by cheka

gatorengineer Handful of Dust Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:04 Permalink

Frankly I am not seeing anyone fighting Trump.  I am just seeing trump abandon his agenda.  I see the muzzy travel ban as his Kabuki theater for the masses.  What am I missing?  Actual Deportations down, China anti-dumping never happened, H1B enforcement of whats on the books nothing, Tax cuts for the middle class, that didnt happen, education reform, etc, etc....Instead we got dreamers, mo free shit, more expansion of endless war,  more goldman people in DC than in NYC, and not even decent tweets anymore....

In reply to by Handful of Dust

Snípéir_Ag_Obair Arnold Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:38 Permalink

#1 Bestseller Proves that Usury Is an Ancient Jewish Plan for World Conquest ...

In point of fact, the Jews' God instructs the Jews to practice usury against non-Jews as means of taking over the World, but to never practice usury against fellow Jews, because usury is immoral, as immoral as murder. The Jews' racist God tells the Jews to bleed the Goyim dry with usury in the books of Moses, which were supposedly given to the Jews some 1,500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, and therefore some 2,000 years before the Middle Ages, which is the period in which Jews claim the Christians forced the Jews into becoming usurers.

In the Jewish book of Deuteronomy 15:6; 23:20; 28:12-13, the racist Jewish God tells the Jews to take over the World with usury:
"15:6 For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee. [***] 23:20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it. [***] 28:12 The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. 28:13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:"
According to the Jews' own records, the Jews planned to use usury to rule the World at least 3,500 years ago. How dare the Jews blame and scapegoat Christians for their most ancient Jewish theft and greed?

Now, as to the Jewish claim that the Jews are free from guilt for ripping off and ruining the Goyim, the Jews' own religious authorities from Moses, to Ezekiel, to Maimonides viewed usury against fellow Jews as the worst of crimes. The racist and murderous Jewish God states in Exodus 22:23-24:

"24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
25 If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury."

Yet the Jewish God has commanded the Jews to practice usury against the Goyim! Again in Leviticus 25:36-37 the racist Jewish God, who commands the Jews to practice usury against non-Jews, forbids the Jews to practice usury against one another, because usury is immoral...…

Centuries before Christ, the god of the jews commanded genocide and usury in a plot to rule the world.

"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." -- Deuteronomy 7:6

"For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee." -- Deuteronomy 15:6

"Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it." -- Deuteronomy, 23:20…

Jewish law on the value of non-Jewish life is pretty clear, and it's not just the Talmud, but throughout Torah that Jewish supremacism, racism, and deception are made sacred command. The Talmud however is a continuation of these ancient yahwehist themes

In reply to by Arnold

MEFOBILLS Arnold Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:19 Permalink

Arnold, why are you dismissing Scar Bro from making a truthful statement?The reason money aggregates to the top one percent is due to usury.   In financial capitalism, interest accrues exponentially.  Run an interest rate equation if you doubt this.  Debt math is an eponential function, and this function is overlaid onto a natural world.  The natural world has growth at infancy, but then settles into steady state at maturity.  An adult human does not continue to grow as fast as an infant.Various times in history, the usury mechanism was explored and understood.  Some civilizations grappled with the problem and came up with solutions.  But Mammon never sleeps and he sends his agents of destruction out to cast hypnosis. Bentham acolytes were sent out during period of U.S. constitution, to then cast hypnosis.  The money power was not properly walled off in constitution as a result.   When NSDAP in germany grappled with the problem, the whole of the western world was whipped into a frenzy by the ((usurers)).  I didn't use the term "Nazi" to make a point.  It was a Russian Jew who coined the term Nazi, the national socialists in germany never called themselves "Nazi."  Using the term Nazi is a form of hypnotism, which makes the point that most people have been programmed with false memories.Implanting false memories is part of Mammon's game, and Jews are Mammon's footsoldiers.  They operated their game in every country they were kicked out of.  Even Solon's reforms were a function of the Jew.  The Jew in those days was an obvious Semite, who looked physically different from the Greek.  Greek farmers put themselves into silver debts.  And guess who controlled the sliver mines, especially those in Lydia? Silver was made dear, and the farmer could not acquire silver to pay the debts. Then indebted farmers lives would be traded to work in the mines, and Athens started starving.  I always try find good Jewish behavior when I study monetary history.  I want Jews to be good actors, but unfortunately that is not the case.  There are a few exceptions, for example Irving Fisher, perhaps Minsky, but overwheliming preponderance of evidence is that Jews DO act as acid to disolve high civilization, and their main usurious weapon has been honed over centuries, and has become quite sophisticated.  Sorry to say it is true, the six pointed star people need to be singled out as bad actors.  Be discriminating though, because many Jews are totally unaware of their nefarious history and diabolical Talmud.It is more than finding a scape-goat, there is a Judas goat.  To fix a problem, you have to identify it first.  Justinian of Byzantine empire forbade Jews from being money lenders, from being in government, and from teaching goy children.   For a period of time in early middle ages, Catholic Church also had doctrines to keep the Jew out of certain professions and from employing and exploiting Goys.  Today, Shia in Iran forbid the Jew from certain areas of their economy.  Jews in Iran are in control and are not trying to take over.  (As much as I dislike Islam, I admire this aspect of what the Shias are doing.) 

In reply to by Arnold

Scar Bro Snípéir_Ag_Obair Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:40 Permalink

Whilst orange jesus is most likely (in fact, almost definitely) controlled by the 6 pointed star, to constantly rail against numerous symptoms rather than the cause wastes vital energy. As I said, focus is key. Let's wait for definitive proof so the numerous supporters of his, who are after all, mostly our own, can be convinced unanimously. No sense in antagonizing different factions within our own... that includes white liberals afaic. Way too much in-fighting.

In reply to by Snípéir_Ag_Obair

Endgame Napoleon Scar Bro Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:54 Permalink

I live in the South, where it is 99% Christian. Can’t blame the stars here. The 80% poverty / near-poverty to 20% yuppie-upper-class / McMansion-rich ratio is apt.

In states where the per capita income hovers around $19k (or less), like MS, AL, TN, TX, KY and Rust Belt states such as IN, rent takes HALF or more of your monthly wages, even though many of these states are regarded as having low, relative housing costs. This is just rent for a crappy apartment, not a house.

Unaffordable rent forces many who lack spousal income or who are not in the pay-per-birth mom group, the group that gets free or reduced-cost rent, free groceries, monthly cash assistance, free electricity and child-tax-credit welfare checks that were upped from a max of $6,269 to a max of $6,318 by RepubliCONs this year, to live under the thumb of their parents, never starting a life of their own in many cases.

Welcome to prosperity for the 20% and womb-productivity-based survival for the socialism-for-some crowd.

Yes, elites are vilifying anyone who objects to this crony system, calling them racists, sexists and xenophobic, 50 year’s years after the Civil Rights Bill in an era with a two-term, Black president, when more women are MDs than men.


“Propaganda” is the correct term; what elites are doing amounts to bold lies to support a political/economic status quo that pads their pockets. Walk into any number of government agencies and corporate buildings to see unquestionable evidence of that lie: white people are not the ones doing the discriminating in 80% Black workplaces. Ditto for the many 99% [sexist] mom-gang jobs, where moms hire and retain mostly their fellow moms, enjoying an enormous amount of excused absenteeism because of crony back-watching rings.

Racism / Sexism / Not

But some of these elites are elite mostly just in attitude. Unless it is the fact that many of them are progressives, I am not sure why tenured college professors were added to the list of people in the top 5%. While they do enjoy a steady income—unlike almost all other Americans—most of them do not have six-figure salaries to say the least. And universities are granting fewer tenured positions. There are also more PhDs, chasing those positions, since women entered the workforce, doubling the number of job applicants in every profession that pays anything and [always] marrying men at similar salary levels, which concentrates wealth in fewer households. Maybe, he means just the professors who have an impact on the rigged public debate, i.e. mostly the ones in elite private universities.

In reply to by Scar Bro

gatorengineer Endgame Napoleon Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:11 Permalink

I think you got some facts very wrong.  You wont find a tenured college prof not making 100k with unbelievable bennies.What sets the floor for rents is Section 8 housing re-imbursement.  Cut that rents have to drop.Look at how much ""Tax"" you pay on your utilities so they can give away free power phone and cable.....  those are now rights, not luxuriies....Whats proping up food prices, EBT, cut that food has to come down. Farmers are barely getting by, its the $1mm wallymart execs that are the winners with EBT, not the schlub making $10 an hour in the store....The only path forward is to start unwinding the Crony capitalism that is out there...  and guess what it wont happen without violence....

In reply to by Endgame Napoleon

Old Hippie Patriot Scar Bro Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:22 Permalink

It's not the Jews, it's the descendants of the old Feudal royal families for whom the Jews are the clever little agents. The Renaissance has to be destroyed so that the elite can forever remain in control because scientific progress has been halted. No technological developments that may render their control and exploitation mechanisms moot.

In reply to by Scar Bro

Thought Processor The Count Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:26 Permalink

 The globalist Status Quo 'elite' are hopelessly corrupt.  The war they wage is one of dominance and control.   It has been this way for a long time.  Without real justice this will simply continue.  Ironically the people most effected by this abuse (the 99%) are the ones that are enabling it by failing to open their eyes to what is really going on around them.  If everyone knew the extent they are being lied to they would be in utter shock as to the completeness of the swindle.   The real problem from here on out is that the U.S. is already passed the point of no return.  Most other counties as well.  They have been hallowed and swallowed.  All by design from the beginning.  All roads lead to the same destination for when these countries fail they will fall into the arms of a 'Stateless' entity that will care little for the interest of people, yet will proport to solve their largest problems (debt, monetary decisions, etc).   Of course all of this will be promoted or sold by a willing and coordinated media industry.  And people will buy it lock, stock, and barrel.  Because they're being played like a fiddle. 

In reply to by The Count

Dincap The Count Mon, 11/27/2017 - 14:36 Permalink

It is normal in capitalism and not much a failure of the system for the most. It is the way it works, the opposite would be less natural.However American ninety-nine or ninety-five percent still have the privilege of getting resources from the poor of the rest of the world via dollar and oil.  

In reply to by The Count

Chupacabra-322 Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:01 Permalink

Ultra Rich Oligarch Elite using Communist & Fascist model to coordinate & consolidate power but most importantly control. 

It's Crony capitalism wrapped up in Fascism.

Endgame Napoleon 1 Alabama Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:09 Permalink

That is exactly why the elite wants the MSM to focus on sex gossip 24/7. First off, it generates profit for the corporate-controlled MSM. Secondly, It is easier to counter that topic from a publicity standpoint or to use it as a distraction from the bread-and-butter, economic issues that determine elections, like the fact that rent absorbs half (or more) of monthly, earned-only income for most Americans or the fact that wages have been falling or stagnant for 40 years. Elites and their MSM servants completely ignore the fact that 43 million people—defined as “employed”—get free EBT food to cover their grocery expense, not to mention their other main household expenses. They ignore the welfare checks at tax time, these child tax credits that, at the max level, already amount to 1/3rd of the per capita income in many states. They get away with defining welfare-dependent or spousal-income-boosted moms who work 20 or less hours per week as “employed.” They get away with defining people performing self-employed gigs as employed. They get away with ignoring the vast, historic, workforce-participation lows in a society with a 62% out-of-wedlock birth rate, where WORK productivity is not rewarded as much as WOMB productivity.

In reply to by 1 Alabama

curbjob Chupacabra-322 Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:09 Permalink

Generally the ruling class can survive a generation of financial regression .. war, plague, natural disaster.Two generations is stretching it and, by the time you get to the third, the populous is about done with trying to fix a broken system and wants to burn it down.Tick tock western democracies, hard turn ahead.No guessing as to the direction, but if past history is any indication ..

In reply to by Chupacabra-322

LawsofPhysics Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:01 Permalink

Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.Those in power are not going to give up this power and control without a fight. History is very clear on this people. Take their fucking heads before they take yours.In the meantime..."Full Faith and Credit" same as it ever was...

Endgame Napoleon A. Boaty Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:31 Permalink

Ooooh yes we can; we can have socialism-for-some policies that help one group of people to the max to reward sex and reproduction.

Work 20 hours per week or less, making sure that you stay below the less-than-$1,000-per-month income limit for welfare, while churning out one kid after another than you cannot afford as a single mom or an immigrant household with a sole, male breadwinner, and DemoRats and RepubliCONs will pile on the “help,” increasing it constantly for the same group.

~ Free Rent in Section 8 apartment complexes or reduced-cost rent, awarded in increasing amounts on a per-kid basis, in mixed-income apartment complexes, which are in nicer, safer areas of cities than most college grads can afford, with the landlords given a per-unit tax credit to bulld them for the womb-productive “poor”

~ Free EBT food, with the average amount for a mom of 2 being $450 per month when she also gets it for herself, exceeding the weekly take-home pay for a $10-per-hour employee in a full-time job

~ Electricity assistance

~ Monthly cash assistance, which, for a mom with 2 qualifying children, is around $300 per month

~ Daycare assistance that reduces the expense to $25, and yet, even though they work part time, they still get to count ANY daycare expense to qualify them for the child-tax-credit checks that, at the max level, equal 4 months of full-time wages in a $9-per-hour job

~ Child Tax Credit check that now—thanks to FAKE conservatives—is at $6,318 for moms of 3 to spend as they please on tattoos, trips to the beach to entertain their latest boyfriend, master bedroom furniture, etc.

Meanwhile, per capita income for individuals, including those who must live on one stream of [earned-only] income, is around $19,000 per year [or less] in many states.

In reply to by A. Boaty

Xena fobe Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:02 Permalink

The status quo is working out exactly as planned for the elite.  The goal was to reduce the standard of living and they have achieved it. 

Endgame Napoleon Pollygotacracker Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:38 Permalink

How about a return to the social pressure to marry before embarking on the sex-and-reproduction journey, with one parent staying home to keep a close watch on the kids in a country where, according to the MSM, sex abuse is rampant, rather than letting $9-per-hour daycare attendants or babysitters with NannyCams raise your children, taking two jobs out of the economy to finance more luxury items in an underemployed nation, where automation is reducing the number of bill-paying jobs. How about reducing the 1-million-per-year rate of mass, welfare-buttressed, legal immigration and the unfettered, welfare-boosted, illegal immigration that, likewise, drive down wages.

In reply to by Pollygotacracker

E.F. Mutton Mon, 11/27/2017 - 09:13 Permalink

Tribalism and Populism are inherent to the species, no matter what the Kumbaya Klowns would have you believe.In the long run, no amount of Social Engineering will overcome that.