Monday, October 13, 2014

State of the Union: The Coming Revolution: Evolutionary Leap or Descent Into Chaos and Violence?

The Coming Revolution: Evolutionary Leap or Descent Into Chaos and Violence?

By David DeGraw.  DeGraw was one of the main organizers of Occupy Wall Street.
This is Part 3 in a series of adapted excerpts from my new book, The Economics of Revolution. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

A Critical Crossroad

A new paradigm is organically evolving: new economic systems, sustainable communities, solar energy, organic farming, liquid democracy, worker co-ops and new media. For all the problems we are confronted by, there are existing viable solutions. There is much to feel positive about. A decentralized global uprising is undermining systems of centralized and consolidated power. A new world is being born.
However, as exciting as the evolution presently occurring is, after extensive research I am forced to confront the fact that I do not see how emerging solutions will reach a critical mass and create the needed change before the affects of inequality, poverty and the overall deterioration of society will lead to widespread chaos and violence. As much as I wish this wasn’t the case, as much as I want to just disengage from the status quo and focus on the implementation of local solutions, we cannot ignore the urgent need for significant systemic change on a mass scale now.
The longer mainstream society stays on the present course, the worse things will get and the harder it will be to overcome the growing crisis. No matter how much we are inclined to ignore it, we will not be able to escape this reality: under present economic and government policy, more and more people will fall deeper into debt and extreme poverty. The present economy only works for 30% of the population,tens of millions of people have been mathematically eliminated.
There are only enough full-time jobs for 50% of the working-age population, and half of the full-time jobs pay under $35k per year. Since 2007, the economy has lost over 14 million full-time jobs while the overall population has grown by 17 million people. In current conditions, it is impossible for 70% of the working-age population to earn enough income to afford basic necessities without taking on ever-increasing levels of debt, which they will never be able to pay back because there are not enough jobs that generate the necessary income to keep up with the cost of living.
From 2007 – 2013, overall wealth increased 26%, while the median household lost a shocking 43% of their wealth. If median wealth continues to decline at this rate, over 50% of US households will be bankrupt within the next decade. Mainstream propaganda has temporarily obscured the fact that we are sitting on a ticking economic time bomb. Statistical fraud by the government on poverty, cost of living and unemployment cannot cover up the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population is on a fast track to impoverishment.
The government’s policies and actions in dealing with the growing epidemic of poverty are the very definition of tyranny. It couldn’t be more blatant. Just when the economy has reached a point where there are not enough jobs that generate an adequate income to sustain the cost of living for the majority of the population, the government is cutting billions of dollars from assistance programs and pouring billions of dollars into the military and prison industry.
An out of control private military complex is fueling violent conflicts abroad. A perpetual state of never-ending war is exhausting public wealth, with trillions of dollars diverted from social programs into the pockets of war profiteers. Here at home, the police force is being militarized and the private prison industry is growing at a shocking 1600% rate. We already have the largest prison population in the world. The current per capita rate is worse than the darkest days of the Soviet Gulags. On top of that, many cities are now criminalizing poverty. As ominous as it may sound, a tyrannical assembly line of incarceration is now in place.
Based on existing evidence and key indicators it is logical to think that increasing desperation within large segments of the population will soon lead to chaos and riots. Factor in the militarized police force, which will escalate violence and oppression, and this highly probable scenario will tear our nation apart.
We are at a critical crossroad.
Are we on the verge of an evolutionary leap, or will shortsighted greed descend us into madness and destruction?
Will significant systemic change happen quick enough to prevent a much larger collapse?
The ultimate point is that there is presently more than enough wealth and capabilities to solve societal problems. We can truly evolve society in unprecedented fashion. We live in the most wealthy and technologically advanced society in the history of civilization. In the US, we have $94.4 trillion in wealth. People should not have to struggle and be buried in debt to get basic necessities and live a healthy life.
It is an absolute crime against humanity for poverty to exist in today’s society. With only 0.5% of the richest 1% of the population’s wealth, we can eliminate poverty nationwide. Having poverty makes no economic sense whatsoever. It costs society more to have poverty than it costs to eliminate it. That is the insanity of the current system.
For one of many examples of how we can begin to address this urgent crisis, the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing (QE) program created $4 trillion, out of thin air, under the guise of stimulating job growth. However, since QE started the economy has lost over 10 million full-time workers. Most of the $4 trillion created through QE went to only 1% of the population. Clearly, giving another $4 trillion to people who already had a stunning $21 trillion in unused wealth was not an effective stimulus for the overall economy.
If they truly wanted to stimulate the economy, they could have given the $4 trillion to every non-millionaire household, which would have been $40,000 per household, or they could have given114,285,714 people $35,000 each. If we clawback QE from the ultra-rich, we can eliminate poverty and guarantee a Living Income to every person over the age of 18.
This is just one example of many things that can easily be done when you have $94.4 trillion in wealth. In a technologically advanced society, where fewer and fewer workers are needed, we have to address the issue of providing basic necessities to everyone. We cannot just throw 70% of the population overboard. That will lead to chaos and riots.
Instead of increased productivity and wealth being a very good thing for overall society, the shortsighted greed of the richest .01% of the population has systematically taken the increase in wealth for themselves, robbing us of a life of liberty, economic security and freedom.
Most people are unaware of the paradigm shift in technology and wealth creation that should have provided economic security and made life much more enjoyable for everyone well over a generation ago. We haven’t evolved the political and economic system because the mainstream media has not revealed to the general public that we have $94.4 trillion in wealth, with $25 trillion of it unused. If people knew that this much wealth existed, and could comprehend the implications of what could be done with just a fraction of it, we would have a revolution.
At this point, a significant portion of the population knows that our present system is unsustainable and unstable, even many of the richest .01% will now acknowledge that. We already have a critical mass of aware citizens, we just need to inspire and organize them to build the cultural and political will.
Alas, the horrifying socio-economic reality haunts me; after extensive research, it is clear that we don’t have much time left before we descend into chaos. If we want to change things through nonviolent methods, the window of opportunity is closing fast. We need to radically intensify the pace in which change is occurring. The .01% and political class must urgently acquiesce to the needs of the people. As John Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
The statistical evidence is clear.
We have reached the tipping point.
Revolution is coming, one way or the other.

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