Blog Archives

Is Your Cost of Living Rising? Why the Elites Aren’t Worried About Inflation

In our household, we measure real-world inflation with the Burrito Index: How much has the cost of a regular burrito at our favorite taco truck gone up?

The cost of a regular burrito from our local taco truck has gone up from $2.50 in 2001 to $5 in 2010 to $6.50 in 2016.

That’s a $160% increase since 2001: 15 years in which the official inflation rate reports that what $1 bought in 2001 can supposedly be bought with $1.35 today.

My Burrito Index is a rough-and-ready index of real-world inflation. To insure its measure isn’t an outlying aberration, we also need to track the real-world costs of big-ticket items such as college tuition and healthcare insurance. When we do, we observe results of similar magnitude.

Our money is losing its purchasing power much faster than the government would like us to believe.

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How Higher Education Became an Obscenely Profitable Racket That Enriches the Few at the Expense of the Many (Student Debt-Serfs)

“Legal” rackets have two essential components: a public-relations “cover” that obscures the racket and the mechanism that extracts the wealth from the “marks.” The Higher Education Racket qualifies on both counts:

1. The PR cover is “you all need a college diploma, and we’re here to make that happen.” Yea for more education!

2. The extraction mechanism is student loans. Here’s a chart that shows what happened relatively recently: your federal government began guaranteeing obscene profits to student-loan lenders and debt-serfdom for tens of millions of “marks” i.e. students.

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Welcome to Neocolonialism, Exploited Peasants!

In my latest interview with Max Keiser, Max asked a question of fundamental importance: (I paraphrase, as the interview has not yet been posted): now that the current iteration of capitalism has occupied every corner of the globe, where can it expand to for its “growth”?

My answer: neocolonialism, my term for the financialized quasi-colonial exploitation of the home domestic population. I described this dynamic in The E.U., Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model(May 24, 2012).

We all know how old-fashioned colonialism worked: the imperial power takes political and economic control of previously independent lands.

In the traditional colonial model, there are two primary benefits:
1. The imperial power (the core) extracts valuable commodities and low-cost labor from its colony (the periphery)
2. The imperial power sells its own high-margin manufactured goods to the captured-market of its colony.

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The More the Establishment Freaks Out Over Trump, the More Attractive He Becomes

The Establishment is freaking out about Donald Trump for one reason: they didn’t pick him. The Establishment is freaking out because the natural order of things is that we pick the presidential candidates and we run the country to serve ourselves, i.e. the financial-political elites.

Donald Trump’s candidacy upsets this neofeudal natural order, and thus he (and everyone who supports him) is anathema to the Establishment, heretics who must be silenced, cowed, marginalized, mocked and ultimately put back in their place as subservient debt-serfs.

With Trump ascendant, the serfs are selecting the noble in the castle on the hill. Outrageous! Unheard of!

You know the Establishment is freaking out when Establishment pundit mouthpieces like David Brooks and Francis Fukuyama are freaking out about Trump. David Brooks could not restrain his disdain for Trump on a recent Charlie Rose segment, in which he intoned (and I paraphrase) that Trump can’t put eight words together without referring to himself, i.e. he is not just a narcissist, but he is (take this, Trump!) a fragile narcissist— unlike people like Brooks, of course, who are solid, secure, wise, well-educated, erudite water-carriers for the status quo.

Policy heavy-hitter Fukuyama confesses the political system in the U.S. is broken but he can’t understand why the citizenry has selected the “singularly inappropriate instrument” (his description of Trump in the pages of Foreign Affairs) of Donald Trump to express their disdain for their neofeudal lords.

Well, Mr, Fukuyama, let me explain it to you: the debt-serfs have selected Trump precisely because the neofeudal financial-political nobility you represent consider him a “singularly inappropriate instrument”.

But, the pundits rage, he’s a narcissist. He’s fragile. (Now isn’t that a classic middle-brow slam from the hopelessly middle-brow (“I only sound middle-brow due to my starring role in the mainstream media; actually I’m brilliant beyond words”) Brooks.

Policy guru Fukuyama has a much better turn of phrase, of course: “narcissist” is way too common and middle-brow a critique at his level. Thus we get “singularly inappropriate instrument” (ooh, now there’s a sharpened blade that slips easily between the ribs).

Dear Establishment pundits, flacks, hacks, sycophants, apparatchiks, toadies, lackeys, functionaries, leeches and apologists: the more you label Trump as “singularly inappropriate,” the more attractive he becomes to the 81% who’ve been left behind by the financialized-globalized-neofeudal order that has so greatly enhanced your own wealth, influence and power.

Trump is attractive because the Establishment fears and loathes him. Why? 1) They didn’t pick him and 2) he might upset the neoconservative liberal hegemonyEmpire that the Establishment elites view as their global entitlement.

The elitists like Brooks and Fukuyama admit that politics have failed. But they believe the solution is more people like us in power. You know, reasonable, well-educated elitists who won’t stoop to get our hands dirty with laundered millions (for example, the Clinton Foundation).

The utter cluelessness of the professional apologists and punditry would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic: the more you fume and rage that Trump is unqualified, narcissistic, singularly inappropriate, etc. etc. etc., the more appealing he becomes to everyone who isn’t inside the protective walls of your neofeudal castle.

The people outside the cozy walls of the protected elites don’t care if he is unqualified (by the standards of those who get to pick our presidents for us) narcissistic, singularly inappropriate, and so on–they are cheering him on because you, the multitudes of water-carriers for the Imperial elites, the teeming hordes of well-paid, I-got-mine-so-shut-the-heck-up pundits, flacks, hacks, sycophants, apparatchiks, toadies, lackeys, functionaries, leeches and apologists, are so visibly afraid that your perks, wealth, influence and power might drain away if the 80% actually get a say.

Dear pundits, flacks, hacks, sycophants, apparatchiks, toadies, lackeys, functionaries, leeches and apologists: we’re sick of you, every one of you, and the neofeudal Empire you support. We want you cashiered, pushed outside the walls with the rest of us, scraping by on well-earned and richly deserved unemployment.

My new book is #5 on Kindle short reads -> politics and social science: Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle ebook, $8.95 print edition)For more, please visit the book’s website.

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Central Banks Have Pushed the Middle Class Down into Neofeudal Serfdom

In traditional feudal systems, serfs were the landless peasantry who worked the land of their feudal lords in exchange for protection. In our present-day neofeudal system, serfdom has a different definition: present-day serfs own little or no productive capital and have few opportunities to ever acquire any.

The Marxist term wage-slaves describes those who, lacking capital, have only their labor to sell. This describes the vast majority of people in both capitalist and socialist systems, but what makes the present system neofeudal is the central banks: by extending essentially unlimited credit at near-zero interest rates to financiers and corporations, the central banks have given the top .01% the ability to outbid mere savers for income-producing assets (i.e. productive assets).

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Collapse, Part 2: The Nine Dynamics of Decay

While collapse may be sudden, the decay that generated the collapse had been rotting away the foundation for years or decades. In distilling the vast literature on collapse into nine dynamics, I am drawing upon many other authors’ work, including:
The Collapse of Complex Societies
The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History
The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age
Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects

Here are the nine dynamics of decay that lead to collapse:

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A Reader Asks: How to Find Shelter from the Coming Storms?

Some basic suggestions for those who are seeking shelter from the coming storms of global financial crisis and recession.

Reader Andy recently wrote: “I look forward to your blog each day but am still waiting for your ideas for surviving the coming crisis.” Andy reports that he and his wife have small government and private pensions, are debt-free and have simplified their lifestyle to survive the eventual depreciation of their pensions. They currently split their time between a low-cost site in North America and Mexico. They are considering moving with the goal of establishing roots in a small community of life-minded people.

Though I have covered my own ideas in detail in my various books (Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the NationAn Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled TimesWhy Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It and Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy, I am happy to toss a few basic strategies into the ring for your consideration.

Let’s start by applauding Andy for getting so much right.

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