The Promise of Neo-Feudalism

by JC

Problembear’s post the other day about letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire has sparked a lively debate between Big Swede and Mr. Benson, and pb and I. The governing philosophy on their side it seems, is this notion that the more money the rich have, the more jobs they will create. Here’s Big Swede:

“Will raising taxes on the wealthy increase jobs?”

This is nothing more than regurgitated reaganism and its trickle-down, supply-side economic theory. BS and Mr. Benson seem to be wishing for a return to the days of a “shining city upon a hill.”

I see this as nothing more than wishing for a new era of neo-fuedalism where the success of the country is dependent upon the most wealthy individuals. And because we are dependent upon them, we must give them whatever they ask for, because the consequences of not doing so are dire: Who will create the jobs? Who will buy the luxury items that drive economic growth and technological advance…

The inequity in wealth between the rich and the poor has returned to early Depression-era levels. Congress is awash in crony capitalism, and the Obama administration is mired in corporatism. Corporations have been given first amendment rights by the Supreme Court. Wall Street dictates financial policy. The health insurance industry controls access to, and provision of health care. Energy companies must never be held accountable for fear we’ll have another return to a Carter-era energy shortage.

And we’re being asked by conservatives to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, because, well, because who else is going to create jobs?

This is nothing more than sheer economic blackmail. It is more than looking back for guidance from Reagan, it is looking to the dark ages and a return to the comfort of the lord in his castle on the hill, surrounded by his serfs who will do his bidding in return for a small scrap of land to sleep on, and enough of a share in the crops in order to not starve.

This drive to let the rich and powerful run free among us, dictating policy and our economic future paints an ugly picture of the state of our union. For when the wind blows foul from the past, it is time for those who value true freedom and independence to declare that enough is enough.

This debate is not about taxes, as the tea baggers would have us believe. But they are just tools of the rich and powerful used to create a smokescreen behind which the lords can solidify their grip on our nation.

As Gharrett Johnson wrote in “Slouching Towards Neofeudalism”:

“Neofeudalism isn’t just about the powerful taking over everything. It’s about conditioning the poor to accept their designated role in society, even fighting to defend the ability of the wealthy to exploit them. It requires working people to do things that are against their own interests, and nowhere is this more true than in our current economic system.”

This is about the future of our country, and what it will become. This isn’t about politics. It transcends the two party system. It is about whether or not the masses are willing to become subservient to money and power. It is class warfare.

  1. nice post jc. i laughed out loud today when i read this in the missoulian:

    i especially loved the image of this little lap dog barking at his health insurance masters after they ramped up profits from his pro-industry health care bill to unprecedented levels.

    wonder how long it will take the health insurers to punish max for his criticism by pushing the shock button on his electric collar?

    i’ll bet max can do cartwheels and sit up and beg really well too.

    bad max- you go lay down!

  2. Lizard

    yeah, great post JC. neo-feudalism is a term i’ve used, because it’s where this nation is going, and neither party is capable of addressing this country’s priorities because of rampant corruption.

    our priorities? wall street and war. watching the financial sector rob us taxpayers blind and the left acquiesce to endless war has been dumbfounding, to say the least (though not unexpected).

    why haven’t we heard more about financial reform? because it didn’t happen. what passed is another industry friendly tsk-tsk bill that does nothing to address the structural problems that have allowed the big banks to do what they please, damn the consequences.

    as for war, well, if the war hawks and israel enablers get their way, war with iran will be inevitable, and that will make our little imperial adventures in iraq and afghanistan look like minor skirmishes, because iran has a capacity to fight back that neither iraq or afghanistan possess.

    but to successfully address our imperial wars, we have to understand the geo-political context in which these wars exist. these wars are battles for dwindling resources, and they benefit global elites, and no one else. the poor fight our wars, and the wealthy reap the benefits.

    so far, war with iran has been stopped by military insiders who understand how disastrous it will be for their troops. but pressure is once again building, and if obama’s position is weak enough, which it just might be, then he could be goaded into complying with the neocons and the israeli lobby desires to basically set off an endtimes conflagration in the middle east. dogmatic sociopaths are trying to have their way, and i don’t know if obama is courageous enough to counter their increasingly psychotic efforts.

  3. mr benson

    What a load of crap! If the only way you can debate me is to misstate my position, then you lose.

    The original post said, “let the tax cuts expire”. I disagree with that, and you posted a graph which you supported which agreed with that position.

    You support with the “let the tax cuts expire”,

    a, the president breaking his promises, and
    b, extremely high increases in tax rates and losses of tax credits to the lower middle class.

    I don’t.

    • JC

      I never misstated your position. I’ve only quoted Big Swede in this blog entry.

      As to the tax cuts, I say let them expire for those over $250k. Adjust them on a progressive scale downwards to no effect on those under 100k.

      Then someone can crunch some numbers and see what the outcome is. And what the next move is. It’s disingenuous to assume that Congress will allow the expiring cuts to disproportionately affect those in the bottom income brackets. What will be instructive will be to see how much blood conservatives and conservadems demand (i.e. extending tax cuts for the rich) in order to mediate the effect on lower incomes. That is where that battle will occur.

      I’ve taken exception to BS’s contention that the tax cuts have to be renewed or made permanent in order to not affect job creation. I supplied data showing that during the Bush era, that job creation was dismal, even given the unpaid for tax cuts. And you showed your agreement with BS.

      I happen to think there are far better ways to stimulate job creation than the same old trickle-down theory. Especially when it is being pushed by entities that don’t have a whit of concern for lower income families–their concerns disguise their self-interest (global and political power, and concentrating wealth at the higher levels), which is counterproductive to our country’s and the world’s needs at this time.

    • of course, i am not all that crazy about any money going to washington dc these days since it has been infested with corporate lobbyists who bribe our politicians into giving it all to boardrooms and ceos.

      if there were a tax credit option that allowed the wealthy to take the additional taxes they would end up sending to washington when the bush tax cuts expire and invest it locally in programs that actually helped people that would be preferable.

      more money going to a corrupt out of control system which is printing money to give away to any corporation willing to make a sizeable donation to whichever politician chairs the committee which oversees them is just insane.

      but that is what we have right now. an insane system which is getting more out of control every day. when we got rid of bush, we thought someone with some common sense would attempt to clean up the mess but it appears the inmates are in charge of the asylum now.

  4. Big Swede

    Vote For the Anti-Neofeudalists….would look great on a billboard this fall.

    Fortunately main stream voters don’t fall for this crap. And the Bush bashing is shelf worn. Via NYT Tues..

    “The Reuters-Ipsos poll, also released Tuesday, found that an overwhelming majority of Americans — 67 percent — do not think Mr. Obama has focused enough on creating jobs, compared with the administration’s emphasis on overhauling health care and rewriting the nation’s financial rules. The survey said only 34 percent approved of the president’s handling of the economy and jobs while 46 percent rejected it as unsatisfactory.

    Pollsters said the drop is not unusual for a president confronting so many thorny issues, but that it does show voters want solutions and think Mr. Obama has had enough time to deliver.”

    When canvassing for votes this fall stop by the unemployment line that circles the block.

    Tell them your Neo-feudalism theory.

    • JC

      Got any solutions for creating jobs, other than maintaining the oh-so-good job-creating Bush tax cuts for the rich?

      Or are you one of the 67% of Americans who are really responding to Republican intransigence in Congress? FWIW, their “Party of NO” strategy is working.

      It’s easy to blame Obama for our nation’s problems–heck I do it all the time. But blaming him for Congress’ inability to pass job legislation–in the face of Republican’s desire to see him fail by refusing to cooperate with dems on jobs initiatives–is to reveal naivete about how dysfunctional D.C. is.

      Oh, and theory? It was you that asserted that we needed to allow the rich to keep their spoils so that we do not impact their ability to create jobs. Even though I showed you the numbers from the Bush era that refute your “the rich create jobs if you allow them to get richer” theory.

      • Big Swede

        Party of “No’ goes both ways.

        I think NOW would be a good time to remind people that the ONLY reason those tax cuts are sunsetting is because Democrats filibustered making them permanent in the first place.

        Republicans had to pass the tax cuts through reconciliation as a budget measure which means that they had to sunset per the rules of reconciliation because Democrats refused to even make them IN THE FIRST PLACE.

        • good.

          now let’s finish the job and restore taxes for those making over 200,000.00 to 2001 levels….
          along with extending the tax cuts to the middle class add a rider that allows the increased tax on the wealthy to be offset with a local tax credit for worthy projects in our communities that actually help people.

        • JC

          Um, the tax cuts were passed under reconciliation so the didn’t violate the Byrd Rule, and couldn’t negatively impact the deficit outside the budget window (10 years).

          And 8 dems voted for the 2001 tax cuts, and 2 voted for the 2003. And don’t forget the cheney cast the tie-breaker in 2003.

          So if you’re going to practice revisionism here, BS, you at least should get the facts straight. ;-)

          • Big Swede

            Both sides have deserters, the state of Maine comes immediately to mind.

            I’m thinking in this conversational format we both can speak in generalities. ;-)

    • Lizard

      here’s an idea, bring the troops home and take all the money we have sunk into “defense” and invest it in a radical, coast-to-coast infrastructure improvement project to rival the space program. we spend more money on “defense” than the rest of the world combined. how insane is that?

      again, our national priorities have to radically change if we’re to avoid the long, protracted pain the majority of this country will feel if things continue on our current trajectory. neo-feudalism is an apt term to describe the disparity in wealth this country has seen expand in the last ten years. if that doesn’t change, the economy will continue to contract, and we will face harsh realities, like hyperinflation.

  5. Mike Tandy

    I agree with JC and…I would expect with the changing demographics of our country in the next 20 to 30 years, we can expect a rise in unionism.

    People with marginal incomes will only put up with a trickle down mentality for so long before they will act. If unions have their act together, they can make great strides in the coming years. However, as are most things human, with bigness comes corruption and a self-serving mentality that works against capitalism and entrepreneurship.

  6. Big Swede

    Jerri Thompson confirms everything goof says.

    • Mr stockman refutes the premise that extending tax cuts for the rich will grow our economy:

      excerpt from above article:

      “It is not surprising, then, that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1 percent of Americans — paid mainly from the Wall Street casino — received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90 percent — mainly dependent on Main Street’s shrinking economy — got only 12 percent. This growing wealth gap is not the market’s fault. It’s the decaying fruit of bad economic policy.

      The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing — as suggested by last week’s news that the national economy grew at an anemic annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter. Under these circumstances, it’s a pity that the modern Republican Party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever.”

      -David Stockman, a director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, is working on a book about the financial crisis.

      • i know that bs thinks the economic sun rises and sets on fox news conservative mouthpiece jeri thompson who can read a teleprompter supplied by her masters, but i like to get my economic news from people who actually have credentials. more information from recognized sources dispelling right wing ignorance here….. wall street journal link below….

        this graph supplied in the above article should help to wipe away all the vapid fox news stupidity.

        • JC

          Credentials? How about Alan Greenspan today on Meet the Press:

          MR. GREENSPAN: Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money. And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous. And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here on it.

          MR. GREGORY: You don’t agree with Republican leaders who say tax cuts pay for themselves?

          MR. GREENSPAN: They do not.

          And here’s Greenspan supporting my thesis in this blog post:

          “Our problem, basically, is that we have a very distorted economy in the sense that there has been a significant recovery in a limited area of the economy amongst high-income individuals who have just had $800 billion added to their 401(k)s and are spending it and are carrying what consumption there is. Large banks, who are doing much better, and large corporations, whom you point out and the–and everyone’s pointing out, are in excellent shape. The rest of the economy, small business, small banks, and a very significant amount of the labor force, which is in tragic unemployment, long-term unemployment, that is pulling the economy apart. The average of those two is what we are looking at, but they are fundamentally two separate types of economy.”

          • Big Swede

            This is one of my favorite Greenspan quotes.

            “Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the ‘hidden’ confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights.”

            Which explains two things, gold’s value above $1000K/.oz and the bug thats bitten me.

            • Lizard

              my favorite comments from greenspan came when that bastard tried to explain why a fiscal guru like himself didn’t see how keeping interest rates so low for so long inflated the housing bubble when it’s the fed’s role as a central bank to cool the economic engines when they’re working too hot.

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