I was thinking about trends. Nothing new, yet the wheels of my brain were going round and round. I can’t help but wonder how long this can go on.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Big business profits steadily increase as the middle class disappears and wealth inequality grows. The unemployed and underemployed are getting to around a quarter of the population and growing. Poverty and homelessness is on the rise. A large number of people are on welfare or in prison.
If you counted all these Americans, that might be around a third of the population (or more) that has become an apparently permanent underclass, a discarded and oppressed people, the so-called “useless eaters”. And there is no hope in sight of it reversing. If anything, it will just get worse and worse.
This is my theory for why the the prison population grows so much (even while crime decreases), more than most other sectors of the economy. The Prison-Industrial Complex is Big Business, the second half of the Military-Industrial Complex (the latter being the single largest part of the US economy). How many citizens have to be imprisoned before it can be declared we live in an authoritarian/fascist/corporatist police state?
I think we have long gone past that point. What is the step that follows authoritarianism? Do we go to more overt forms of concentration camps? Does the government create more perpetual wars in order to send all the excess population off to die fighting the poor and desperate people in other countries?
It isn’t even just the US. It’s not like immigrants are taking away our jobs for jobs everywhere are disappearing. Many people in other countries (most people in quite a few countries) have also become a permanent underclass. The same big businesses and big governments driving this trend in the US are driving this trend around the world.
I’m always surprised by how few people seem to see this happening. It is the one thing that rarely if ever (certainly never fully) gets discussed in the MSM. It will almost inevitably lead to world war, revolution or genocide. How this story ends is completely predictable in the broad terms: mass suffering and violence. The only thing stopping this from happening over night is the twin forces of the welfare state and the police state. Even my respectable upper middle class conservative father basically agrees with me that revolution would follow if the mass welfare and imprisonment suddenly ended.
The answer conservatives always offer me is that there needs to be more private charity, just put a few more band-aids on the gushing wound. Or else they say all these ‘lazy’ people just need to work harder. Really!?! What a brilliant solution! As soon as they can find work or get out of prison, they’ll certainly try that working harder idea.
I just never can figure out why those in power want to push the world over this ledge. The temporary gains for the powerful are alluring I’m sure, but the consequences are going to be ugly for all involved. How will all their wealth comfort them when the mobs rise up, when the bombs start dropping on their mansions and gated communities, or when the desperate armed men show up at their offices and boardrooms? You’d think the plutocracy would understand they have a vested interest in avoiding this tragic result of their own making.
The saddest part of all is nothing in this post is an exaggeration nor a conspiracy theory. It is just a simple explanation of the world we live in and where it is heading. People aren’t disappeared in our country. There is no need to speculate about it. We know what happened to these people. We know where they are. They are in prisons and jails, in inner cities, in poverty-stricken communities, in projects, in homeless shelters and on the street. They are hidden in plain sight. Their numbers are growing and at some point their numbers will be too large to control.
None of this had to be this way. It wasn’t always an inevitable outcome, but sure seems to be getting that way. We came to this point through a few decades of choices. The clear trends of this growing inequality didn’t become apparent until 1970s and could have been reversed early on. Even with the 2008 economic debacle, major changes could have been put in place. People could have been held accountable and regulations could have been strengthened. Instead, the plutocracy just doubled down on the exact same type of actions that brought us here in the first place.
It feels like a collective madness. I guess we’ll just have to play it out and let events resolve the issues we are afraid to face.
I’ve said this all before and I’m sure I’ll say it all again and again.