The Final Decline

by Jan Baughman

September 6, 2004


(Swans - September 6, 2004)  It all started rather subtly, under the radar screen unless one were willing to look for it, slowly, gradually heating such that one didn't even notice the temperature change, until like the frog in the pot, we were all boiled meat.

The minimum wage, which was once mainly a part-time income for 16-year olds and the like, became the unlivable wage for the masses. Any increase was a political hot button "threatening the small business owners," so the rate stagnated until it became a sub-minimal pittance causing its earners to take multiple of those sub-minimum jobs to survive. Then they took away overtime... Minimum wage was never again adjusted for inflation, nor was the definition of poverty, which stayed at $18,000 per year for a family of four, thus leaving tens of millions of others unaccounted for and not counting.

The slave wages resulted in lower and lower cost of goods that the high-paid marketers forced down the slaves' throats. They could have (and believed they needed) everything in every size and every color; every make and every model. Zero percent down for five years; buy now pay later. Debt "stimulated the economy," and further enslaved the masses. Fast food became the cheapest form of the most calories, never mind the sodium, fat, toxins; the slaves fed the machine while the machine fed the slaves until the system imploded. Like in the Middle Ages, obesity became a fashion statement for the enslaved; a symbol of gluttony was the only remaining show of materialism, as poverty, lack of health care, child care, affordable housing, left little else possible to achieve. A Happy Meal could be yours for just 99 cents (not even adjusted for inflation.)

The competition for stealth food led to the outsourcing of drive-thru's to order centers; and, ultimately to self-serve machines, such that the slaves no longer even had their McDonald's careers to sustain their poverty. Soon many of the masses became enslaved in prison, where 20-cent per day minimum wage was the norm.

A few prison poster child high-flying executives whose empires thrived off of raping the masses briefly occupied those prisons, and their creative juices flowed. They invested in those very prisons, hired their captive skilled labor and indoctrinated a generation of consumer targets. Live and work at San Quentin; free room and board; develop a skill, support the company line, spend your wages at the company store. We'll take care of you -- join the Wal-Mart family, forever. Come one, come all.

Soon the export of jobs to India, China, Taiwan and the like became unnecessary with this newly-created domestic work force (and just in time, since few countries were willing to trade with America by then.) Made in the USA took on a whole new meaning. Ethnocentricity exploded.

The government was still able to eek out money from the enslaved; a dollar here, a quarter there, lottery tickets and "gaming" (pared down from "gambling" to loose the stigma of addiction) provided the enslaved with another feel-good form of entertainment in the guise of funding education and local governments, and they never noticed that education and infrastructure had long-since crumbled.

The "free" captives hardly noticed the changes, handing over their freedoms one by one on an aluminum platter to those born with silver spoons in their mouths. They became caged animals in "free speech zones," with the freedom to choose between sub-optimal education, military service, debt, prison... All in the name of capitalism, security and the still-lauded promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Voting was eliminated early on in the Final Decline. Voting rates dropped from 45% to 30% to 25% and on, until ultimately there were too few unincarcerated and participating citizens to justify the cost of campaign matching funds, ballots, elections, and all the security required to protect the democratic process. The powerless were fully powerless to fight the system, and soon had little desire but that their basic needs were met. When the Final Decline was complete, there would be no departure from totalitarianism for a long, long, long time; certainly for a longer time than the previous system had existed.

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America the 'beautiful' on Swans

US Elections & Democracy on Swans

Activism under the Radar Screen on Swans


Jan Baughman on Swans (with bio).

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Published September 6, 2004
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