It Was The Greed That Done Us
Originally published in the 2008 edition of The Firebrand

When the Great Scribe comes and writes America’s final history, one can only suspect that he or she will sadly shake their great grey mane and proclaim as their end verdict “it was the greed that done ‘em in.” The collapse of the American stock market in September of 2008, and the great and costly buyout by the Federal Government that followed, will then be noted as the breaking point; the exact moment when America officially stopped being a viable world power and capitalism met its fated demise as the great, greedy folly that it is. And, folks, things will get very weird from here on out.

I fear that America will not bow softly and move easily into its place as a second or third world country like England did after the fall of its Empire. There will be wars, ladies and gentlemen. America is too crass and unseemly a culture to allow itself to be stripped of its vast wealth and fat standard of living without a fight. Those trillions of dollars America spent on various weapons of mass destruction will be used on someone. Right now a big chunk of it is still being spent on a mad and desperate power grab for Middle Eastern oil rights. China or Russia will be next and that war will be very costly to all involved. As America stumbles under the weight of its failed “free” market policies and its own massive collective ego, the new dominant world powers—China, Russia, India, OPEC, and the European Union—sit back and grin while watching the death flails of the world’s biggest, and stupidest, dinosaur. The American Century is officially over.

Yet, this dinosaur still has teeth and many spiky appendages and as it dies it will strike out. The scariest thing for the future of this planet is not a group of fanatical Muslims hiding in a cave on the Pakistan border or even global warming. The thing that gives me great fear is what will happen when the world’s largest military budget swings into action in an insane attempt to save the standard of living of its obese, lazy population. As the wealthy class that has been running America since 1776 starts to panic and watches as their assets melt like the polar ice caps, they will lash out like the dumb brutes that they are. The “1%”—a term I use because the top 1% of the wealthiest people in America own the vast majority of the nation’s wealth—own the government and therefore own the military. These rabid greed junkies won’t be able to stand the thought of working for a slant-eyed boss—one that doesn’t speak English as a first language or maybe at all—and will howl like a gay priest at a Boy Scout jamboree at the idea of having to
sell off one of their Lear jets or the house in Aspen. The scum-eating degenerates whose vast greed caused the failure of the American financial system forever should be hung in public squares and beaten like gongs. But, the kicker is that these bottom dwellers are the very same people who really run the country. Any one of the CEO’s of the numerous failed banks on Wall Street has in his address book the name of at least ten powerful politicians. Guaranteed. Maggots like George W. Bush, his father, Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney, they all come from the 1% and are beholden to them. Even poor and gentle Bill Clinton, a man who only ever wanted to help his fellow man and do his fellow woman, became entangled by the 1% and helped to deregulate Wall Street to the point where even the most crooked idiot could make a fortune selling pieces of paper to an equally greedy fool who would then turn and sell them to…

“What’s the answer,” you scream to me, wiping tears from your eyes as you watch your pretty future dissolve into a quagmire of fear and loathing. Part of me thinks that what will probably happen is the 1% will completely destroy the planet in an effort to keep an iron grip on their various cars, houses, clothes, jewels and yachts. Yet, part of me wants to believe that the 99% of the rest of the population of America will get their collective heads out their asses and stop worrying about gay marriage and other bullshit topics and rise up and seize power from the white Anglo-Saxon protestant filth mongers who have successfully driven the country into the ground. Once these monsters are deposed of and shipped off to deserted islands where they can spend their time hording coconuts, the rest of us can then get down to work on tasks such as coming up with a fair and sane system of government and an economy that is balanced and reasonable. Maybe…but the one thing I am sure of is that the next few years are going to be a very bumpy

By the way, ask yourself this question: if American can easily come up with $700 billion to bail out Wall Street for its fiscal insanity, why can’t it provide a sound education and decent health coverage for all of its population?

Whose priorities really matter?

-Richard C. Root, The Firebrand, 2008.

Well, shit. Three years later and I guess I was right to dream. The 99% have started to speak against the horrid injustice and feudal conditions imposed upon us by the filthy rich. It remains to be seen how much influence this movement has—or even if it is a movement in the true sense— but the cats out of the bag now and the dirty whores who own this country should be afraid.

It didn’t take a genius to see this coming. It was only a matter of time before at least some
people in this country—even those numbed by fat-living and reality TV—started to take a look around and realize what the hell was really going on. “Golly gee,” they said, when finally awake. “You mean to tell me that I got myself $100,000 in debt going to college like a good little tool just to find out that the only jobs that exist anymore in this country are $7.50 an hour gigs at Wal-Mart? And, meanwhile, the top 1% of the wealthiest people in America saw their income level rise by 275% since 1979? And the Wall Street Tea Party-owned politicians like Andrew ‘Daddy was Governor and Now I Am’ Cuomo absolutely refuse to extend a fair tax on the 1% and instead fire middle-class workers, gut the public education system, and cut aid to things like elder health care and jobless benefits ? Gee wiz, this just don’t sound fair.”

Well, hell, it isn’t fair. No shock there. And it hasn’t been fair for a lot longer than the last
30 years. The great fallacy of the “American Dream” myth is that it was ever sustainable, or even attainable, for a majority of Americans. That every generation would live better-off than the last, that there would be near-full employment, that everyone had the opportunity to own a house, a car, and a flat-screen TV and live a great life if they just worked hard enough and blah, blah, fairytale bull-shit. The surprising thing to me is not so much that some Americans have finally figured some of this out, it is that it took so long after the beginning of the New Great Depression for a movement to begin. Because this shit has been happening since 1776, folks. Name a time-period in this nation’s history and I can show you the litany of down-right unfair economic practices, some worse than now, some slightly better. And it will always continue to happen as long as private money funds elections and as long as the economic system of this nation is devoid of any meaningful regulation or government control. This is because in the
winner-take-all world of free-market capitalism, boom and bust cycles are the natural and
perfect order. What we are living through now is what unregulated capitalism will always give us: bubbles that burst and leave lives destroyed.

So, kudos to the folks at Occupy Wall Street; they represent some of the people that get it. Now, if the movement catches fire and gains a critical mass of people who are willing to remove the blinders and see the truth, then we will see what type of democracy we really live in. This movement will need to do more than take over parks to make real change. They will need to start running and electing representatives who hold their core values as their own. They will then need to demand that these elected officials do things like overturn the corrupt Supreme Court’s decision to allow the unfettered buying of elections by corporations, remove all private funds from the electoral process, impose strict regulation on the financial system, invest in education and healthcare, stop fighting needless and stupid wars, and so on. You know, have the priorities that a progressively developed nation should have to ensure a sustainable and viable future for its citizens.

Otherwise, the only other option available to the Occupy Wall Street movement is to follow the example of what happened in the Middle East; which is to say, take to the streets and fight. Now, the reality is that our situation in this country, as unfair and wrong as it is, is vastly different from what living under a totalitarian regime in Libya or Syria is like. We are not at the point yet where blood needs to flow in the streets for change to occur. And make no doubt; blood WOULD flow in the streets of every city in this nation if the movement’s tactics turned violent. The 1%, and the police and military establishment that they own, would NOT go softly into the night. What needs to be done is to exercise the democratic right to elect representatives and to hold those representatives accountable. The 99% percent need to get off there ass’s and vote for change to happen. This country has some of the lowest voter turnout numbers of any democratic society in the world, which is one big reason why the corporate whores have taken so much
so easily. They were ALLOWED to take it! The vast majority of people of voting age in this
country who have been systematically taken advantage of by the 1% have chosen not to educate themselves and not to participate in the electoral process. And somehow the rug got pulled out from under them. Big fucking surprise.

So, my dream now is that the Occupy Wall Street movement abandons the parks and sets up politically active groups throughout the nation that will use factual education to reach out to their natural allies (which is everyone who is worth less than, say, $1 million) to grow in numbers that will be influential enough to actually make a difference in elections. They need to demand of candidates for every level of elected office that said candidates will adhere to the direct and specific wishes of the 99% of the population who are not filthy rich. It will be a time consuming and bumpy ride that will require actual focus and participation by a majority of average people who really think that we can do a whole lot better in the future than we have done in the past. But, it is something that SHOULD be done, CAN be done, and HAS to be done.

-Richard C. Root, October, 2011