What if we could invent a system that makes people rich without work? There is such a system, the stock market. And, if your company sells stock instead of borrowing money, there can be a financial explosion that makes you a billionaire. Our financial markets are like the Capital in The Hunger Games, only the wealthy and connected benefit while everyone looses out with stagnant wages and rising costs.
Equity vs. Money
Equity is an essential element of an enduring fair and just society. There was probably a good reason Jesus overturned the money-lender’s tables. I think I know why. This is a big deal. That act was probably the thing that got him killed in the end.
Money is evil in and of itself. Money appears to preform miracles as a medium of exchange. But, when money commoditizes the world, it leads to wage and rent slavery, and to Earth’s destruction. But, when money is multiplied by markets and computers, it creates injustices that are almost impossible to undo: obscene wealth.
Financial Markets Benefit The Wealthy
One could try to make the argument that the average American benefits from financial markets through retirement funds. The truth is that 84 percent of the stock market is held by the wealthiest 10 percent. The top 1 percent owns 50 percent of the entire stock market. This leaves just 15 percent for the remaining 90 percent of Americans. The average American would do just fine by owning interest bearing assets. They also would not get hurt by bubbles like the 2008 or Dot-com crashes.
Corporation have alternatives. They can raise money by taking out loans like the rest of us.
It’s a given, the stock market just makes billionaires, while the rest of society basically does not benefit. What is the point of a system rigged for the wealthy? Spending on luxury goods is highly sensitive to stocks, specifically jewelry, watches, pleasure boats and pleasure aircrafts. Be honest with yourself. If you want to reduce inequity, we have to remove one of the main drivers of ultra-inquiry: the stock, futures and related derivative markets.
One might argue that we need the stock market to inspire innovation. However, innovation should be paid by companies to all staff when they become profitable. An unprofitable innovation is pointless. Profitable companies can borrow money to fund innovation; they don’t have to sells tock.
The tremendous inequity caused by the stock market is almost irreversible. Especially the top 1% is becoming so wealthy that they are a modern nobility, with the rest as serf consumers. Even when wealth spreads down to the top 10%, they drive up housing costs for the rest of the public. I watched the millionaires move into Telluride, then the Billionaires start to kick out the millionaires. Housing prices in my home town of Ashland, Oregon have risen $100,000 over the last year. Because of lack of government leadership experience, both Ashland and Jackson county have no Affordable Housing Authority, no real estate transfer tax to pay for affordable housing, and no residential or commercial rent control.
What Do I Have Against Billionaires?
The wealthy corrupt government so it no longer works for, and protects the people. Here is a short list of a government for and by the wealthy.
- Citizen’s United made corporations persons. It gave corporation free speech and access to unlimited campaign contributions.
- Income of the wealthy and of corporations is largely not taxed. Assets of the wealthy are not taxed.
- Corporate tax cuts were used mostly for stock buybacks to further increase share prices.
- The United States is the only industrial country in the world that does not give its people universal health care.
- College debt enslaves graduates.
- The federal minimum wage has not been increased for 13 years.
- We have no publicly funded elections to get money out of politics.
- The United States wastes (spends) more money on the military than all other nations combined. Almost half of the Federal budget is either direct military spending, spending on war debt, VA benefits, and lost production from injured service men and women.
- Agencies charged with protecting the people don’t. Testing new chemical interactions with other chemicals is not required. Genetically modified food, chemical spraying on food, and pharmacy ingredients are not labeled. Known cancer causing chemicals are allowed to be sprayed on almost all conventional (non-organic) food production.
- No accuracy or balance of news information is enforced on medias using the public airways, cable and internet. Newscasters, candidates, and public officials, may lie endlessly without repercussion. If one lost their public office and access to public media for repeated lying, much of this would stop.
- Look at the billionaire orange disaster that has spent four years in the White House. He cared little for democracy, has exacerbated division, and set the country back decades.
Be warned, the ultra-wealthy are ruthless in their quest to maintain and grow their wealth. The banking system was created to hold it. The financial system to grow it. The government to protect it. From generation-to-generation privilege and entitlement are taught.
We must applaud the benevolent few that give back as much or more than they receive, like Yvon Chouinard: Patagonia Works, and Douglas and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins: Tompkins Conversation.
Not working for income is great as long as you get it yourself. It is ironic, that most wealthy and Republicans embrace their unearned income, but disparage a homeless person for receiving aid. Homelessness, rent and mortgage foreclosure are growing across America. I have witnessed homeless camps almost double in many cities near me over the last year. These are people that do not have access to employment, enduring freezing temperatures at night in just a tent. One billionaire could end this homelessness in their city with a snap of their fingers, but instead they’d rather county their riches than help their fellow man and woman.
The rich have no business earning more obscene income without work for the sole reason that they were already rich. But, this is precisely what happens with financial markets. If your stock goes up, but you own just a little of it, you don’t earn much. But if you own millions or billions, you earn that again for doing absolutely nothing.
Rigged Markets And The Gangster Federal Reserve Syndicate
Financial markets are manipulated and rigged. Largely because the wealthy control (own) our government, they have rigged the system so the stock market never goes down. Even when investor confidence rightly dropped the U.S. stock market by almost 30 percent in the first quarter of 2020, it miraculously bounced back just a few months later with trillions printed by the Federal Reserve. Given the pandemic, low corporate profits, small business, unemployment, rent, mortgage, commercial real estate crises, the stock market has no business being as high as it is. The stock market is rigged for the wealthy who own 85% of it.
The Federal Reserve is not a government institution. The Fed is a crime syndicate of the world’s wealthiest individuals demanding protection money from every world government in the form of interest paid on money borrowed from the Fed. Think about this, if our government can mint money, why should it borrow money from anyone, and force us to pay taxes on the unnecessary debt?
If our government can mint money, why should it borrow money from anyone, and force us to pay taxes on the unnecessary debt?
Pull The Plug To Stop Feeding The Monster
Computerized financial markets have made the wealthy dangerously wealthy. They have built institutions around themselves to make this level of wealth permanent. After 100 million, wealth becomes difficult to stop. It is not that wealth is a bad thing, a few million ok. But, reach 1 billion and a class of citizens becomes toxic to the health and progress of society. Society cannot take care of itself because a class has become so powerful it blocks progress. Millions have no homes, no healthcare, poor education, substance abuse, pitiful minimum wages, debt slavery, etc.
We need a two pronged solution: shut down the financial system the creates ultra-wealth, tax wealth back down to reasonable levels 10-20 million max domestic and overseas. If a wealthy person moves assets overseas to avoid taxation, repatriate the assets, and expel them from the country. Goodby.
How can we have respect for any ultra-wealthy person who resists paying taxes to support those who work to create their largely unearned wealth, and the infrastructure to enable it from transportation, to communication, education, safety, and health care systems.
Our country is a shadow of what it could be without the wealth, and inequity caused by the stock and derivative markets. It is time to shut them down for ethical reasons. To make retirement accounts whole, convert stock owned by the bottom 70–80% to corporate debt. If a company cannot afford to issue debt to make middle-class investors whole, then their stock is worthless anyway. The remaining top 10–20% can afford to lose a little; most of their ultra-wealth is unearned anyway. The top 10% has reaped virtually all the gains in income and wealth of the past 20 years.
House of Cards
Here is dirty secret of financial markets, your share of stock is not worth what the market says it is today. The market may say your share of Amazon stock is worth $3,074.96, but it is not. Why not? The deception of the stock market is that if they publish a share price, all stocks are worth that price. The truth is only the share that just now recently sold for that price are worth that value. However, if everyone who owns a share of Amazon stock demand that price at once, the whole deck of cards would collapse to near zero as everyone rushed for the door to sell. So, you portfolio is only worth what you can sell it for, the hope that props the illusion of value up is that not everyone wants to sell at once.
[Image] Yahoo Finance. Dow Jones Industrial Average.
 Yahoo Finance. The richest 1% own 50% of stocks held by American households.
 PolitiFact. Most Americans don’t own stocks.
[Also See] Charles Hugh Smith wrote this two days after the above essay. It is also a good read. The Top 10%’s Bubble Is About to Burst.
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Chuck Burr is author of Culturequake: The Restoration Revolution. Revised Fourth Edition. 10th Anniversary.