Rich People Are Eating You:
Sometimes you know the game is fixed. Sometimes you walk into a smoky room in the back of some bar and you look at everyone around the card table and you realize that there's no way you're gonna win. It ain't just that you're outskilled. Oh, no, on a level playing field, you might stand a chance. But you get a lay of the land: you know that at least one of the fuckers is holding pocket aces and kings; you can see that a couple of 'em have worked out signals so that they can keep each other up on who's got what; you know that the chick with her tits nearly free of her wifebeater shirt is gonna distract you while she palms a chip or two of yours. Oh, yeah. The ground here is full of snake holes and molehills and your shoes are tied together. Still, you figure, you're here. You can't really leave now that you've promised to toss your cash into the pot. You just hope that you can hold your own and maybe break even.
For what are we to make of two recent reports that reveal just how very fucked almost all of us are other than that the fix is in (even more blatantly than it usually is)? In one, we learn that, as we emerge from the worstest of worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, the number of millionaires in the United States rose by 8% last year, the second year of growth after a big plunge in 2008. (Which means, truly, if you are very wealthy, voting against Democrats is actually bad for your overall worth.)
And then there's this: Profit margins at non-financial S&P 500 companies "will climb to 8.9 percent in 2011, the highest level in at least 18 years." You got that? Wait, it gets better: "CEOs are spending more on shareholders after stockpiling cash since 2008 when the financial crisis eliminated profits." Pop quiz: What word is missing there? In the entire article, there's no mention of "jobs." That's because, as Paul Krugman points out, corporations at this point don't give a fuck about you and your lack of employment. You're "being written off," says Krugman.
You aren't even a factor anymore. And why would you need to be? The wealthy have recovered quite nicely from the recession. Shareholders in corporations are reaping profits. Rich Americans are so secure at this point in feeding off the misery of the rest of the population that there's no point in even trying to hide their actions. The legislation that's being passed by Republicans in state governments in stripping away the last vestiges of worker rights is just codifying what has already occurred: the marginalization of the American worker, or, to put it another way, the destruction of the American worker and the elevation of the American consumer, dependent on banks and cobbled together incomes to merely pay the interest on the shit that's been purchased. If it's your home, you get to pay until the wealthy can just take it away and then re-sell it to another soon-to-be failed consumer lost in a clusterfuck of financial regulations and outright fraud.
You want more evidence that you are on the menu for the rich? A study of Minnesota's income tax burden shows that the bottom 90% of income earners pay 12.3% in state and local taxes. The top 10% of earners? They pay 10.3%. In other words, you pay 20% more taxes if you are not wealthy. If we on the left were allowed to engage in class warfare, we might say that that's "regressive" and needs to be corrected.
To return to that image that started this post, your odds in that poker game are far, far better than your odds in facing down the vicious American economy. Let's put it this way: right now, things are so tilted against you that it's like playing a poker game with acid thrown in your eyes while the players get dealt only face card and aces while you're getting punched in the nose repeatedly and the guy with the biggest dick is fucking your spouse in front of you and it'll never be your deal and you just hope you can get out of it alive.