We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Debtcropper Society

by Matt Stoller from New Deal 2.0

This brief piece hits on the powerful strategy of financial elites to enslave all the world's working people to feed their addictions to wealth and power. (Read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man)

Giving money to people and nations in the form of debt is so seductive and so effective at bringing people under the control of the creditors. The creditors use the legal system which they constructed, and then use sheriff and police departments which they control, sometimes even armies, to enforce their laws. 

Instead of raising taxes on the rich, the rich much prefer issuing debt to their own governments in the forms of bonds, loans, etc. Instead of paying decent wages to workers, they encourage workers to use credit cards to purchase items that the advertising world insists they should have in order to be an acceptable human being.
Today, the debts do not involve liens against crops. People in modern America carry student loans, credit card debt, and mortgages. All of these are hard to pay back, often bringing with them impenetrable contracts and illegal fees. Credit card debt is difficult to discharge in bankruptcy and a default on a home loan can leave you homeless. A student loan debt is literally a claim against a life — you cannot discharge it in bankruptcy, and if you die, your parents are obligated to pay it. If the banks have their way, mortgages and deficiency judgments will follow you around forever....