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The Big Answer


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The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America--and What We Can Do to Stop It

a book by Thom Hartmann

(our site's book review)

If We Don't Learn from the Mistakes of the Past, We're Doomed to Repeat Them

Hartmann says that "It takes about eighty years for those who remember [the great economic crashes] to thoroughly die out. We have to see these similarities, to hear their stories, and to get a handle on how to move around them if we hope to mitigate the damages of the Crash of 2016." His point is that if we do not learn from the mistakes of the past, we will be doomed to repeat them. History bears out his claim of every 80 years we forget our pre-80-years-ago history, dooming us to another great crash—great war—great suffering cycle. And without personal memory of the mistakes that previous generations made, we'll be without memory of the solutions that previous generations employed. So we will fail to employ them.

Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe suggested, in their seminal 1997 book The Fourth Turning, that the first decades of the twenty-first century would be the start of the next cycle of disasters. See more economics articles.

Eighty years after Black Tuesday 1929, the United States was in two full-scale wars and constructing a massive worldwide war machine built on Predator drones
Eighty years after Black Tuesday 1929, the United States was in two full-scale wars and constructing a massive worldwide war machine built on Predator drones

But how and why does this happen? In 2006 the housing bubble was bursting, which then triggered the financial crisis of 2007–08. "The Great Forgetting had again descended on the nation, and eighty years after Black Tuesday 1929, the United States was in two full-scale wars and constructing a massive worldwide war machine built on Predator drones." As Obama was sworn into office in 2009, " . . . over 800,000 Americans had lost their jobs, and over a half million had come to the brink of losing their homes. The stock market had crashed, banks were in a crisis worldwide, and two foreign wars were sucking us dry and devastating our image around the world."

Shadow Government Plutocrats Are Willing to Crash the Market to Retain Power and Wealth

Obama gave a "hopeful" inaugural speech—what else could any president-elect do?—and yet his rhetoric ran headfirst into the Great Forgetting, guaranteeing the Crash of 2016, says Hartmann. We'd once again forgotten America's plutocracy—the wealthy bankers and industrialists who put their own personal enrichment ahead of the well-being of the nation—with disastrous results, and who are quite willing to risk a crash in order to hang onto their awesome power. In 1933, FDR told the nation, "Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men."

Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano

Occupy Wall Street Demonstrations—Which the Press and Oligarchs Rudely Ignored

In 2011, two and a half years after Obama's inaugural speech, we had the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, and—oddly enough!—the plutocracy/oligarchy/corporatocracy was utterly unimpressed, looking down from their cozy, highly-placed offices, as one looks at a toilet one has just defecated into as one prepares to flush. And that is metaphorically what the "1%" on high did with the "99%" down below: flushed them into the sewers—out of sight, out of mind, so they could go back, like the money changers in the temples that Jesus resented, to adding more zeros to their bank accounts. (Did any of these one percenters urinate on the protesters below, giving them a true sense of "trickle-down economics"? That's unknown.)

Jesus driving money changers from the temple
Jesus driving money changers from the temple

You're doubtless aware that the source of the wealth bloating the fat cats' accounts was the accounts of the protesters and the rest of the Middle Class, who were concomitantly seeing their accounts shrink. Bye-bye homes, jobs, lives. And yet they were not even worth the courtesy of acknowledgement in the eyes of the fat cats. According to the professed ethics of the capitalist conservatives whose greed had wrought this disastrous financial crisis of 2007–08, they should be wracked with guilt. But, in reality, they instead were wracked with laughter.

'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'
'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'

Obama Symbolizes Leadership without Vision (But with Lots of Selling Out), Which FDR Found Was Disastrous

"They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish." This was FDR, bemoaning the reality of the apparently inevitable Great Forgetting. And yet what did Obama do? Made sure the too-big-to-fail multinational corporations that caused the crash got ginormous bailouts and bonuses and golden parachutes and tax breaks, because, in spite of phony words and pretenses to the contrary, he'd joined the ranks of the sellouts from the moment of his inauguration, which even blind and deaf people should have been able to figure out by 2016. (The author is a progressive democrat who makes excuses for Obama in an annoying display of the politically motivated wearing of blinders. But overall, his book is well researched and insightful.)

Bush and Obama love playing God, swatting to death anyone they don't like the looks of and making the U.S. look like the Great Satan the Islamics see us as
Bush and Obama love playing God, swatting to death anyone they don't like the looks of and making the U.S. look like the Great Satan the Islamics see us as

Obama had expanded our warmongering, added many trillions to our debt, expanded the Predator drone assassination program, lied about his expanded NSA invasion of the privacy of hundreds of millions of innocent Americans, and so badly bungled guidance of our wars that Islamic fundamentalists were turning into Islamic fundamentalist extremist terrorists in droves, with the U.S. in their crosshairs. ISIS is a result of Obama's screw-ups. This time it's worse than just a crash and a war. This time we have a psychotically violent eternal enemy trying to acquire WMDs to slaughter Americans with. It's anybody's guess if even the Shadow Government saw that one coming!

We have a psychotically violent eternal enemy trying to acquire WMDs to slaughter Americans with. It's anybody's guess if even the Shadow Government saw that one coming!
We have a psychotically violent eternal enemy trying to acquire WMDs to slaughter Americans with. It's anybody's guess if even the Shadow Government saw that one coming!

The American Press Corps Used to Call the Plutocrats "Robber Barrons"—But Now They Merely Call Them Sir

"Economic Royalists" is what FDR called the greedy plutocrats. American citizens mostly just say fat cats or bigwigs, but few realize how they are part of the shadow government, the national security state, the corporate security state, the invisible government, the corporatocracy. Before the American press corps joined up with the corporatocracy so that our country now has only a government-dictated propaganda sector but no reportage sector, these plutocrat A-holes were referred to as "robber barrons" by legitimate investigative reporters. Now the people refer to them as the one percenters and the press refer to them as "Sir," normally preferring to refrain from referring to these Invisible Government power brokers at all. (These "one percenters" actually represent a much smaller number than that—they are only a tiny fraction of the top 1 percent of Americans, economically.)

Now the people refer to the greedy plutocrats as the one percenters and the press refer to them as 'Sir'—fat change we'll ever see real investigative reporting from the mainstream media!
Now the people refer to the greedy plutocrats as the one percenters and the press refer to them as 'Sir'—fat change we'll ever see real investigative reporting from the mainstream media!

Shadow Government Thugs Are Pillaging the U.S.A. into Collapse

According to the author, American history is one of constant struggle against this anti-democratic cultural infection of unchecked greed and power wherein the Great Forgetting takes hold and the Economic Royalists jump into this opening to take the reins of power and pillage the nation into collapse. Look at our debt, our hugely expensive wars that the U.S. started, unprovoked, and look at how federal funding for food stamps is being decreased as war budgets increase. (The former does nothing for plutocrats but annoy them, while the latter lines their pockets—e.g., Halliburton.) In the 1920s it was the DuPonts and the Morgans and the Rockefellers that were the plutocrats, and today it's guys like the Kochs and the Adelsons and Cheney and all the Bushes, and many that the public knows little or nothing about—these ass clowns are part of the shadow government. The predator class in this country is eating everything in its path.

In the U.S., the 1% people get 99% and the 99% people (us) get 1%. Is it fair we get leftover scraps and they pig out?
In the U.S., the 1% people get 99% and the 99% people (us) get 1%. Is it fair we get leftover scraps and they pig out?

But the people are NOT happy. Hartmann says there is a growing populist rage in our nation—think of the Occupy Wall Street protests—"We Are The 99%." We’re seeing this in the rise of suicides all across the United States. We’re seeing it in the rise of homelessness. "It's going to take a major economic crisis to produce the political will necessary to create the fundamental changes, structural changes in our political and economic system that can make this country work again," says Hartmann. He lists some needed reforms to turn this situation around: stricter regulation of Wall Street, join cooperative credit unions, join organic food coops, join community farms, join unions, and join cooperative alternative energy organizations—and then after the crash, enact hard left policies (let's hope not!), and set rules and regulations for the marketplace to keep the Economic Royalists from getting too powerful and misbehaving in the future. We have power in our numbers. Will a major economic crisis actually force the needed changes, or will the greedy prevail until our country is swirling the drain? Looking at the response to the 2007-2008 crash, it does not look good, folks.

Shadow Government Thugs Are Unworried That the U.S.A. Is Swirling the Drain—After All, Dung Floats so at Least They Will Be Okay!

Is this the fate of the U.S., due to corporatocracy greed?
Is this the fate of the U.S., due to corporatocracy greed?

Rather than being chastised the predator class in this country continued eating everything in its path, laughing hysterically as the OWS protesters kept saying the 1%-99% situation—the incredible income disparity between them and us—was/is totally unfair. The shadow government, which controls who reports on what, gave the demonstrators scant coverage. Efforts to get the fat cats to respond with compassion were wasted. It turns out that once greed reaches a certain level, it crowds out everything else in people's hearts, minds, ethics, and values. What started out as decent people slowly morphs into mindless acquisition machines, robots that see themselves—in programming terms—as ones and dead set on rendering all other creatures on the planet into zeros. Unfortunately, this includes all humans, animals, plants, the environment, the atmosphere. You haven't quite "won" the game until you've dominated every living thing on the planet, exploiting all, controlling all. Those that are hard to control they start wars with so they can control them as well.

Shadow Government Thugs Have More $ So They Believe They "Won," But They Don't Realize They Lost Something More Important Than $—Their Souls

Someday these shadow government fools will look around at the world they've wrecked, all the lives they've wrecked, all the misery and suffering they've caused, and it will occur to them to ask themselves if, indeed, they really and truly "won." Or will they see the utter hollowness of their wins, the soulless ugliness of their conquests, the monstrous reductionism of their unbridled win-lose obsession, this winner-take-all, scorched earth policy that had led them to live a mere caricature of real life?

In none of the other cycles of the Great Forgetting did the Economic Royalists climb off their thrones and give back all these spoils of war to those they'd exploited. And the war wasn't, and isn't, with other countries or enemies at all, the war is against their fellow countrymen and—ultimately—with life itself. Perhaps when they read the book of Life which at first seemed to say that survival is getting what you need so better survival is getting lots more than you need so even better survival is taking everything from everyone, they should have read the fine print at the very end of the book: "If you don't keep your life balanced by giving as much as you get, doing unto others as you'd have them do unto you, learning to love people and taking care of the environment, and letting compassion guide your life so that you feel good about yourself deep inside, then you will learn to hate yourself and—YOU LOSE THE GAME."

After the Crash of 2016 (or Later?), We'll Need to Rebuild a Ruined Nation

Hartmann warns that after the crash of 2016 or thereabouts, the facade of our once-great nation will disintegrate to reveal the rotting core where corporate and billionaire power and mindless greed have replaced democratic infrastructure and governance. We need to respond by wising up. The trouble is that the true citizens whose humanity is still intact will be eager and willing to do just that, but the pseudo-citizens who rule from the shadows will not. We'll have to attempt to rebuild on the wreckage of our ruined nation, and yet the greedy fat cats will not return to us the needed resources so we can do so. Even if we try to lead them away in handcuffs, keep in mind who it is that controls law enforcement, resources, and—especially—the press. They'll be told that the decent citizens seeking justice are terrorists and must be destroyed. So the only thing that can happen after these decent patriots are deep-sixed, so that only the sheep and the wealthy are left, is the most enduring and stable system of economic and social order the world has ever known: Feudalism.

Government corrosion has allowed rich corporations and individuals to buy huge power in our society, attack the rights of the poor, and further increase their own wealth on the backs of society at large. The United States has transformed from the representative democracy of our past into a modern neo-feudal oligarchy where you work to survive, not to advance, where we all are indebted—by design—to corporations and the government, where laws apply to none of the plutocrats with extreme wealth and power, where the press does the bidding of the fat cats, and where privacy and rights are fond memories. But after the crash, the oligarchs will again consolidate power and control and the only thing left for them is pushing the sheep in this neo-feudal state into more complete feudal arrangements where the shadow government finally emerges from the shadows, and—sneering all the while—they finally admit that aristocracy ruling serfs has been their goal all along.

Feudalism—our future if the shadow government fat cats have their way
Feudalism—our future if the shadow government fat cats have their way

Other Shadow Government Perspectives

Various authors see the shadow government from various perspectives—like the blind men and the elephant, but the overall gist is creepily similar
Various authors see the shadow government from various perspectives—like the blind men and the elephant, but the overall gist is creepily similar