4 Truths About the 1%


I don’t particularly like the phrase, “the one percent.” It reeks of envy and thus of socialism. But at the same time, the wealthiest people in the West really have become much wealthier in the past decade or two, while working people have, perhaps, stayed even. That’s a legitimate issue, regardless of the unfortunate terminology.

The roots of this go back to the changes of the 1980s, when the financialization of the US economy took hold((We can trace it even farther back to the closing of the gold window and the rise of the petro-dollar in the 1970s.)). It’s crucial to understand that the Wall Street complex thrives on the skim: moving money from place to place to place and taking a percentage each time. This is not productive. Rather, it absorbs the fruits of production. As of 2016, that skim was a significant percentage of the US gross domestic product. (It was 7.3% for finance and insurance combined, so a guess of 5% for Wall Street may be close.)

In the end, that means that some trillion dollars per year is skimmed from the US economy by Wall Street and related businesses. These outfits provide some services, to be sure, but have you noticed that nearly 100% of all retirement money in the US is now channeled through Wall Street? That didn’t happen by accident; it happened because legislation and regulations made it happen.

I’m simplifying here but not unfairly. And I’m not willing to turn away from the truth just because it’s hidden behind complexity.

Here’s a graph((Taken from NY Times data and annotated, I think, by Charles Hugh Smith.)) showing the difference between 1980 and 2014:


Since 2008 this process has become much worse, because of central bank actions (including massive asset buys and their zero interest rate policy) and corporate stock buybacks. So much so that projections show that the richest 1% will control nearly two-thirds of the world’s money by 2030. That’s not a healthy situation.

Four Truths

Given these facts, I’d like to express some important facts about this situation:

#1: This is because the system is rigged.

The status quo system is clearly rigged, and it had to be for the system to continue without a painful reset of some kind. Especially since 2008, the system needed more tax income and lower interest on its debt burden and to keep the populace acquiescent with a general prosperity. A reset would have been bad for the banks, bad for the corporations, and bad for the politicians.

And the rigging delivered. With income going to the richest, the state gathered more money from the higher tax brackets. With stock and bond prices soaring, those high-end taxpayers were quite content to pay. The banks got free money, taking loans from the Fed at 0.25% or less, then put the money into Treasuries at 3%. Politicians were better funded than ever before too.

It was an era of easy money for the high end of the economy. But more important than that, it was a time of mass compliance and thus an era of mega-government.

#2: Any other “class” would have done likewise… and has done likewise.

Dividing people into classes is misleading at best, but since we’ve started with “the one percent,” we’re more or less locked into that model. And so, with apologies, we will continue with it.

The upper class has clearly cashed in on the rigging of the US economy, and the middle and lower classes have clearly lagged behind. Behind all the self-congratulatory unemployment figures, for example, there are 90-some million Americans who aren’t even considered “in the workforce,” not to mention millions on welfare and disability programs.

But it’s also very clear that if the lower or middle classes had been given an opportunity to leap ahead at the expense of the others, they would have done so too. In fact, the middle class did exactly that in the 1950s.

Because of labor laws and a variety of regulations and court rulings, labor unions were able to wield massive power in the post-World War II years. There were huge numbers of ignorant and not particularly hardworking guys riding around in luxury cars, with big boats or RVs parked next to their houses.

So, calling the one percent evil, or even culpable, is a stretch. Certainly some small number of them are, but most have simply been getting ahead because they could.

#3: Envy and retribution is the path to barbarism and death.

A lot of the people who talk about “the one percent” seek to stir up envy, anger, and hate. They want a mass of angry people who will bring them into power. Please understand: This is the path to death and degradation.

“Getting them back” is something we should have gotten over in childhood; in adulthood it leads to “charismatic” leaders and piles of corpses.

Sure, we all get angry sometimes. But we are not children anymore, and simply lashing out is both childish and barbaric. These are precisely the kinds of emotions that bypass reason and empower monsters.

And as in the Soviet Union, those who empower the monster will also be its victims. Whatever you empower the big man to build will be turned against you.

#4: The solution is to walk away from the rigged system.

You never have any power in a negotiation unless you’re prepared to walk away from it. Likewise, if you’re not ready to walk away from the status quo – to be called weird and to be disliked – you have no power to change anything. The best you can do is hope that a politician will somehow respond to your whining.

What works is to turn your back on the status quo and start building better systems. And it’s just about the only thing that has ever worked.

So, pick a spot and start building a better world. But don’t talk… act. Unless and until you act, you remain inert, no matter how much you talk.

Break out of your inertia. Get up and start doing.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

What I Want from This Year’s Circus


Years ago, Alvin Toffler convinced me that elections are merely reassurance rituals, and so I take no part in them. But these blaring spectacles – and especially the “every fourth year” variety – do have effects in the world, and so I peek in on them from time to time.

This year’s circus is more interesting than most. Whatever else comes of it, things are clearly being shaken up. And that’s something I very much welcome. I’m not interested in violent shakeups of course, but I’d welcome almost any nonviolent break in the Western status quo.

I do understand the appeal of regularity, especially to older folks. Regularity has a good deal of comfort value, and I don’t want to rip that away from people. But on the other hand, regularity turns too easily into a deathly stasis. And we must escape that.

Shake-ups, contrary to most opinions, are healthy; here’s a line from C. Delisle Burns’ wonderful history of early Europe, The First Europe, that makes this point:

[I]n times of social transition there is greater vitality among ordinary men and women than at other times, precisely because the displacement of ancient customs compels them to think and act for themselves.

I want more of that… much more of that.

The Contenders

Here’s what I think will follow this year’s circus. Bear in mind that I’m ignoring the “my team wins!” euphoria and focusing on what happens after the chariot races are over and the drunken Roman throngs stagger home to their hangovers.

In the red corner… In the red corner we have New York Donny. Donny is really good at working the crowd; he knows what they’ve been waiting to hear and he gives it to them. Furthermore, he knows how to hit all the instinctive buttons, and he never admits an error. Whatever his personal failures may be, he’s really good at self-promotion. He’s spent half a century at it, after all, and Donny is not stupid.

As president of all the red, white, and blues, I think Donny will actually try to keep his promises. To do that, however, he’ll have to make some pretty questionable deals with members of the Blue party, but I think he’ll do it. The scary part involves what he deals away.

The wild card in a Donny presidency would be his relationship with deep state elites. I suspect he’ll make deals with them too, but sooner or later, giant egos will collide and Donny may go “New York” on them. If that happens, we may find ourselves watching news stories about a three-named assassin with obscure ties to an intel agency. Or less dramatically (and perhaps more likely), a variety of quagmires in which Donny’s feet will become stuck.

In the blue corner… In the blue corner we have Just Because Hillary. Everyone knows that Hillary’s morality has more holes in it than a window screen, but lots of people want her elected because… well… just because. She’s a woman, after all, and all those aging ’60s and ’70s babes pledged their lives to political solutions, and a woman president is their big payoff. We had a black guy last time, so now it’s their turn.

Once in office, Hillary will be the same as she’s always been. More than likely, she’ll drag the “grand old flag” into more wars than Donny would. She doesn’t enjoy negotiating like he does. She’ll do whatever the State Department (read Deep State) wants, and that means trying to enforce stasis on the entire planet. One or more of those wars may be an embarrassing loss.

No Matter Which Way…

So, no matter which way the big circus turns, I think we can expect some cracks in the Western facade.

If Hillary gets to live in the big, impressive house, the clock may run out on millions of Americans who want to believe in a God-blessed government. They’ve struggled 15 years to maintain the illusion and its expiration date may be close.

Hillary will do approximately what Obama did, which was approximately what Bush Jr. did. If nothing else, people will become bored with it; more and more of them will admit that the entire exercise was a waste.

If Donny gets to live in the big, impressive house, he’s likely to break things, and that means change, whether people like it or not.

And Then?

It’s hard to say exactly how much JFK’s assassination affected the 1960s and early ’70s, but I think it cracked open the stasis of the previous era. On its heels came a “time of social transition,” to use Burns’ words. This wasn’t nearly as profound as the fall of Rome, but it had its results: The decade that ran from roughly 1965 to 1975 was a time of open futures.

I lived through that decade, and even though it featured a lot of stupidity, I’d take it back. Its new ideas were often ridiculous and sometimes damaging – open space allowed every whack-job with a reheated lunacy to trumpet his revelation – but at least people were thinking something beyond the mundane.

We had Communists and objectivists, free-lovers and Jesus freaks, nature-worshippers and NASA nerds, all mixed together. It was a confused mess, but the people holding these ideas put their hearts and souls into them. For better or worse, they were alive.

Since then, we’ve had endless images of “living loud,” but very little actual life. We’ve been submerged in the mundane. The decade of 1965–1975, as goofy as it was, looks pretty good by comparison.

And so, if we’re very, very lucky, the Donny and Hillary circus may break the stasis of our time. That’s what I want.


* * * * *

If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, The Breaking Dawn.

It begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems, and divides the world. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds… where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.

You may never look at life the same way again.

Get it now at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

Calling Things by Their True Names


Somewhere along my travels, I found an old Chinese proverb that says this:

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their true names.

I’ve found a great deal of value in that little saying. It is, in fact, a fundamental building block of human development. So long as we call things by false names, we maintain our own confusion and contribute to our own abuse.

So, today I want to examine several instances of calling things by false names and to define true names for them.

True Name #1: “Because violent people say so.”

We’ve all heard young people ask why certain things must be done. And we are all familiar with responses like “because it’s the law” or “because that’s how society works.”

Those phrases, however, are untrue. The honest answer to such questions is “because violent people demand it.” Almost no one pays taxes willingly; they pay because they’ll be punished if they do not comply, ultimately including armed men and jail cells. The same goes for every state order, from building permits to stop signs: Comply or face punishments, ending in violence.

The truth is not that we do things because of laws or even because of convention; we do them because the users of violence order them and stand ready to hurt us if we don’t comply.

For actions we take voluntarily, difficult and misleading answers are not required. We usually answer questions about those things easily and honestly.

True Name #2: “Thank you for killing people and breaking things.”

How many times have we heard, “Thank you for your service,” solemnly intoned to a military employee? The truth, however, is that militaries accomplish very specific things, which are – if we are to be honest and direct – to kill people and break things. Phrases like “protecting our freedoms” and “safeguarding our civilization” are judgments – approving summaries with the purpose of making you feel good. They are not direct facts.

Thus, the true name of “thank you for your service” is “thank you for killing people and breaking things.” Whether or not we think the killing and breaking are appropriate, this is an honest description of what weapons do.

(Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh, who was, so far as I know, the first person to use this phrase.)

True Name #3: “Paying my extortion.”

Extortion is “obtaining money, property, or services through coercion.” The classic example of extortion is a protection racket, with the racketeers calling their demand a “payment for protection.”

As we mentioned under #1, almost no one pays taxes willingly. Taxes are taken via coercion and justified by promises of protection. And so it could hardly be any clearer that the true name for taxes is extortion.

Some people will claim that this involuntary transaction is somehow justified, but that does nothing to change its true name: Taking money by coercion is extortion, and always will be.

True Name #4: “Campaign bribery.”

Bribery, according to Black’s Law Dictionary is the “offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.” In other words, you give money to a ruler of some type, and they do something for you in return.

So, when a company gives $5,000 to some political candidate (or group of candidates) hoping to get something back – even if they call it “access” – that’s bribery.

And please, let’s not pretend to be naïve: Every serious “campaign donation” is spent in hope of getting something in return. Thousands of us have personal experience with this (myself included), and we cannot believe otherwise without deluding ourselves.

So, call it “campaign bribery” or simply “bribery,” but this multi-billion dollar business is simply large-scale bribery, which we could also call graft. There’s no other honest tag to place upon it. If we say, “but it’s legal,” we merely defend our own confusion.

True Name #5: “Rigged trade deals.”

Free trade requires just one thing of governments: to get out of the way and let people buy and sell as they wish.

What politicians call “free trade,” however, includes hundreds and even thousands of pages that define what you may and may not do. The current example of this – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or TPP) – features a couple of thousand pages of regulations. It was written by government officials with “input” from mega-corporations worldwide.

So, to be honest – to speak truthfully – what televised suits refer to as “free trade deals” are, in honest language, “rigged trade deals.” Free trade requires the traders to be left alone.

I Could Go On…

I could go on at some length of course: “News stations” are primarily “fear delivery systems,” “officials” are actually “rulers,” the Federal Reserve is neither federal nor a reserve, and so on. But I’ll stop here, confident that you understand my message.

Calling things by their true names is important. In fact, if we persist well enough and long enough in this, the world will change as a result. The coercive systems of our time couldn’t survive with light shining clearly upon them. Their continued operation requires a confused populace.

So, if you’re “looking for something to do,” please start right here.

* * * * *

If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, The Breaking Dawn.

It begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems, and divides the world. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds… where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.

You may never look at life the same way again.

Get it now at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg