Americans are Expendable to Their Government
Americans are expendable to their government and the corporations. That is the simple meaning of refusing to extend unemployment benefits to Americans, on the theory that unemployment benefits keep people from working and lead to inflation. Never mind that there is no work to be had—having exported its manufacturing base, America has not run a trade surplus since 1975, while importing legal and illegal immigrants by the tens of millions to do the work that remains—Americans are supposed to be grateful for whatever the corporations give us.
And for their own reasons (I nearly typed treasons; a Freudian slip if there ever was one), both the US government and the corporations that own it want Americans destitute, which millions are. Some are starving. Some are committing suicide. Back in June, the New York Times published an article noting a sharp rise in suicides amongst the middle aged. The author wrote that the rise was probably due to increased access to guns and drugs, but problems related to jobs and finances are also important factors. You think? Today the Times profiled Terry Sadler who, down to $44 and a quarter tank of gas, is contemplating suicide.
Sadler is a woman who contributed to America in two ways: she had a child and worked at honest, boring, unfulfilling blue-collar labor. When she was laid off, she moved to a trailer; exhausted what she could save from a job that didn’t even pay $15/hour, the help of family friends, and charities after her unemployment has run out; and she’s now applying for jobs that pay less than her unemployment. She did not earn a $100 million bonus for selling credit default swaps and running up the price of gas and for it, as Andrew Hall of Citigroup did, or be paid an $8.5 million book advance for being the worst-ever chairman of the Federal Reserve, as Alan Greenspan was.
They are fine. She is destitute, expecting to be out on the streets with her dog, and no money.
She won’t last long.
And there are millions who are either like her or going to be like her very shortly, whether, like Ms. Sadler, they had their children when they were children themselves, and dropped out of high school to raise them, or have Ph. Ds. Because they have exhausted their resources: the charities, the family and friends, some of whom are in little better shape themselves, their savings. They’ve sold every gram of gold and silver. They’ve sold their furniture, their appliances, they go without heat and good groceries. They’ve sold even their weapons, perhaps keeping a final piece because fast is better than slow: a bullet in the head or chest is better than starvation or even exposure.
There are going to be a lot of deaths this winter. By this time next year, expect there to be blood in the streets.
And it suits both the government and the corporations that own the government for millions of Americans to be reduced to this.
The simple fact is that every suicide of a working-age American who has paid into Social Security and Medicare saves at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in unemployment, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and veterans’ benefits. Drive enough Americans to suicide and you can save real money over the decades.
And the corporations have no need to invest in America. Why should they? They have all the capacity here that the need to satisfy what little demand there will be for years to come. America has been picked clean: of houses and cars, jewelry and cash. Now the surplus population is being reduced, and not by individuals, but whole classes, including what remains of the American middle class. It started with blue collar workers and is now extending to Ph. Ds. Americans haven’t been needed to produce for decades; now we are no longer needed to consume, either. China and India is where the growing markets are.
And the American reaction is not a hard, sustained, creative, above all humane rage.
It is to dive more deeply into our addictions: cheap food and alcohol, for as long as they are available. Psychoactive and illegal drugs, shades of the former Soviet Union. Coarsening, stupefying entertainment, such as Twitter and pornography. Vitriolic politics, whether the anti-Semitism of the left even more than the right, the racism and homophobia of the right, and the blindness to Muslim and Hispanic colonization and the profound misogyny of the left, defending its porn and its prostitution.
And all of it, every last bit of it, permitted by the willful refusal of Americans to think. Ayn Rand was wrong about a few of things, but she was also right about more. (How did Alan Greenspan manage to get it so wrong when he’d read her books?) One of the things she was right about was the cowardice of those who proclaim themselves intellectuals, yet regardless of their politics, steadfastly refuse to think any thought that has not been thought before—and approved for them by their funders. Thinking, she once said, was a volitional act. And Americans haven’t been needed to think since at least Vietnam—by either the Left or the Right.
Americans willfully refuse to think because they know that once they start, they are going to be unable to stop until they have made some very serious and profound changes, in themselves, their lives, their country.
They would rather be expendable.